EU must break down barriers to free movement of innovative fertilizers

Written by Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz on 10 July 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Europe must break down barriers to the free movement of innovative fertilizers, writes Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz.

Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


As Parliament's rapporteur on the regulation on CE marked fertilising products, my report aims to incentivise large scale plant nutrition production across the European Union from domestic organic or secondary raw materials, in line with the circular economy model, by transforming waste into nutrients for crops. 

The proposal will provide a regulatory framework that will enable access to the internal market for such fertilizers, and in doing so, provide a more level playing field with mined and chemical fertilizers that are produced along more linear economy lines. This will contribute to boosting investment and innovation in the circular economy, therefore creating jobs across the EU.

My proposal gives economic operators maximum flexibility in introducing new products through the internal market without compromising safety and quality. It also leaves national EU member states with the freedom to allow non-harmonised fertilizers into their national market, without depriving those economic operators seeking cross-border trade for larger markets of the possibility to opt for the benefits of the harmonised regulatory framework.


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I believe that existing barriers to the free movement of innovative fertilizers, in the form of conflicting national regulatory frameworks, cannot be successfully removed simply through member states' unilateral actions. EU actions can encourage free movement across the internal market of organic fertilizers through the establishment of harmonised and ambitious quality, safety and environmental criteria.

Besides, a European regulatory framework will help raise member states' attention to the economic and environmental potential of innovative fertilizers, putting organic fertilizers on a much more equal footing with mineral-based fertilizers and help to incentivise innovation.

Companies opting for the harmonised route would benefit from simplified access to the entire internal market. And administrative costs would also decrease, as there would be less need to register individual products according to separate national rules. 

Producers not subject to third party certification procedures would be less affected compared to those supporting the costs of third party certification, such as SMEs. Those costs would be mitigated by the reduction of the frequency of controls according to the volume of production and the reduction of the number of external samplings after the recognition year.

In this sense, optional harmonisation would facilitate the smooth transition to the new regulatory framework, leaving producers the choice to market products either for local or for EU markets.

There is currently a struggle between producing more and better quality crops to meet growing demand for food, feed, fibre and energy, and reducing the environmental impacts from agriculture. 

To resolve this, it is essential that we revise the EU's fertilizer regulation to include products such as bio-stimulants, organic fertilizers and organo-mineral fertilizers.

The new fertilizer regulation must therefore have a special place within the circular economy package, and this regulation must accommodate these products. It must also ensure that only products that are safe for human health and the environment can enter the market. 

Failure to regulate organic fertilizers at the EU level, and to create a sorely needed single market for them, will be a missed opportunity that would negatively affect the EU's ability to meet its circular economy objectives, weaken Europe's leadership position on green innovation, and deprive European farmers of these innovative tools that can help them produce more with less.

 

About the author

Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (HU) is Parliament's rapporteur on making available on the market of CE marked fertilising products

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