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EU-US Equivalency Agreement

As of June 1, 2012, certified organic products can move freely between the U.S. and EU. Read OTA's press release for more information on how the .U.S. and EU will work together to promote strong organic programs, protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products.


Webinar

The Organic Trade Association, in cooperation with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and the National Organic Program, hosted a webinar on this historic arrangement. The webinar brought industry members together with top government officials to discuss how the U.S.-EU organic equivalence arrangement creates exciting new business opportunities.


Background and Clarifications 

Under the agreement, the EU recognizes the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and allows products produced and certified as meeting USDA NOP standards to be marketed as organic in the EU. Likewise, the U.S. allows European products produced and certified under the EU Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the U.S.
 

Conformity Assessments

Through a series of meetings and comprehensive on-site audits of both programs, both parties were able to ensure that while some of national program rules and approaches are not identical, they achieve an equivalent level of compliance and maintain the high quality standards important to the integrity of both programs.
 

Mutual Oversight

Conformity Assessments were conducted in Europe and the U.S. to assure both parties that there are organic management, accreditation, certification and enforcement programs in place, and that they operate in conformity with each other’s respective programs
 
Likewise, the above mentioned systems are in place for transition and conversion oversight
 

Timelines

June 1, 2012 – Effective date that trade may begin under the arrangement
June 1, 2015 -- Agreement effective for three years
 
U.S. and EU to revisit this arrangement in three years for areas of improvement and possible elimination of the import certificate requirements
 

Critical Variances

In order to access each other’s markets with organic label claims, U.S. and EU organic producers and processors will be required to attest that each shipment meets the terms of the arrangement.
 
Additionally, producers must attest that:
  • No antibiotics were administered to animals
  • The antibiotics tetracycline and streptomycin were not used to control fire blight in apples and pears

Transaction Certificates

To facilitate trade, the two parties agreed to work together to promote electronic certification of organic import certificates and attestations.
 
The U.S. has agreed to develop certifier-issued Import Certificates that will accompany each shipment to the EU. The USDA is developing guidance on the template and system requirements.
 

Exclusions

There are no provisions in the agreement covering organic aquaculture or personal care products
 

Future Cooperation and Collaboration

The U.S. and EU have agreed to exchange information on:
  • Animal welfare, including living conditions
  • Organic livestock health care concerns
  • Antibiotic-free dairy and other animal production issues
  • Monitoring conversion practices and parallel production
  • Control and approval processes in third countries
The two parties will also:
  • Exchange information on methods to avoid contamination of organic products from genetically modified organisms
  • Work together on future activities to enhance the integrity of organic production systems

Geographic Scope of this Agreement

  • Products grown, processed, or packaged and certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA) operating within their respective country/region borders can be shipped directly to the U.S./ EU as certified organic product
  • Products certified to either standard that has not been “handled” (touched down) in the U.S. or EU cannot be shipped directly to the U.S./EU
  • Products not grown, processed or packaged in the EU that are destined for the U.S. must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier
  • Products not grown, processed or packaged in the U.S. to be shipped directly to Europe must be certified to the EU standard or certified by a Certification Body recognized by the EU as an equivalent Certification Body/Foreign Certification Agent

Mutual Accreditation

The U.S. and EU mutually recognize Accredited Certification Agents (ACA) and Certification Bodies (CB) as accredited certification agents
  • Product grown, processed, or packaged in the U.S./EU can be shipped directly to the U.S./EU as certified organic product
  • Product certified to either standard that has not been “handled” (touched down) in the U.S. or EU cannot be shipped directly to U.S./EU
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the EU destined for the U.S. must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the U.S. to be shipped directly to Europe must be certified to the EU standard or certified by a Certification Body recognized by the EU as an equivalent Certification Body/Foreign Certification Agent
 

Seal Use

The use of the USDA Organic seal is voluntary.
 
The use of the EU organic logo is:
  • Mandatory for products produced in the EU
  • Voluntary for products produced outside of the EU
  • Products that elect to display the EU logo must designate Country of Origin
 

Organic Labeling Requirements

Products must still meet Member State general labeling requirements, which are similar to one another but may have subtle differences, just as product going to Canada must have dual language (English and French) labeling.
 

“Organic”

  • Applies only to products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients
  • Aquaculture is not included
  • Wine labeling is not final

“100 % Organic”

  • No “100% Organic” labeling
  • Labeled as “Organic” only

“Made w/ Organic”

  • No “Made with” labeling
  • Organic ingredients shall be identified in the list of ingredients
  • Total percentage of organic ingredients must be declared in the list of ingredients
  • There is a derogation for products “made with” wild fish and/or game and organic ingredients, which must be displayed on the principal display panel and in the ingredients statement

Wine Labeling

  • U.S. wines “made with organic grapes” produced in accordance with the U.S. restrictions on sulfites may be sold as “organic” wines in the EU
  • EU wines labeled as “organic” in the EU may be sold in the U.S. as wine “made with organic grapes” provided that the sulfite levels comply with the limits set by the U.S. National Organic Standards

Certifier Mark

  • The EU requires that a government-assigned Certifier code number must be displayed on the label
  • EU will assign code numbers for NOP-Accredited Certification Agents

Contact

OTA Members can direct questions about this agreement to:

Monique Marez
Director, International Trade
(202) 403-8515
Bob Anderson
Senior International Trade Advisor
(814) 571-1063

 

Visit the National Organic Program
 website for more information


The Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, national origin or ancestry, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or military status. Persons with disabilities who require alternate means for communication of program information can contact us at info@ota.com.

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