Last updated on 17 October 2013
Proposed changes to EU Regulation 882/2004
The European Commission has published proposals to change EU Regulation 882/2004, which governs official controls in the food and agriculture industries. The proposals will potentially affect all organisations involved in the production, manufacture, supply and regulation of food, feed, live animals, plants and plant reproductive material.
The Commission’s aim is to ensure a more consistent approach to official controls, such as inspection and approvals, throughout the food and agriculture sectors. The proposed changes are also intended to support more sustainable and effective control systems across European Union (EU) member states.
Full details of the Commission’s proposals can be found via the link on the right hand side of this page.
Main features of the proposals
A significant development included in the proposals is a change to the way official controls are funded.
At present, the system for funding and charging is mainly left to the discretion of individual EU member states. Under the Commission’s proposed plans, member states would be expected to recover the full cost of official controls.
There would also be a major increase in the number of controls subject to mandatory charging. The Commission’s proposals include detailed measures for the calculation of fees and a mandatory exemption for micro-businesses. A micro-business is a business that employs less than 10 people, with a balance sheet or turnover of less than €2m.
Procedures and management of import controls across the plant, animal, feed and food chains are expected to be simplified and harmonised under the changes.
New rules regarding the level of information that government and local authorities will be expected to make available to businesses and the general public about official controls have also been proposed.
Since the proposals were published, there have been three European Presidency working party meetings to discuss the text and its implications. The latest meeting was held in Brussels on 10 and 11 September. The European Parliament is, in parallel, considering its views on the proposal towards a first reading position.
The initial Council meetings concentrated on the scope and definitions of the proposal (Articles 1 and 2) with significant discussion on the distinction between ‘official controls’ and ‘other official activities’. The scope and definitions in any piece of legislation are essential and require careful scrutiny to ensure that they are suitable for the purpose of the legislation and have no unintended consequences in the future.
The latest meeting reached Article 24 and areas of particular interest were provisions relating to reporting on official controls, transparency and competent authority access to information held by operators, for example IT systems/documents, keeping in mind confidentiality and commercial interests.
As well as discussing and clarifying the proposals at the meetings, written comments and drafting suggestions are being submitted by member states, including the UK, to support the negotiations. No decisions have been made yet and proposed revisions to the text of the proposals are not expected until later in the process. Discussions and detailed analysis are still at an early stage.
The next Council working party meeting is scheduled to be held in October, discussing delegation of specific tasks and sampling & analyses. Further meetings have been scheduled in November to discuss imports. We expect further meetings towards the end of the year as the Lithuanian Presidency has indicated an ambition to cover the entire proposal before the Presidency is handed over to Greece.
The FSA has launched a consultation on European Commission proposals to replace EU regulation 882/2004 on official controls for feed and food law, which sets out how businesses’ compliance with the law should be monitored and enforced. This will help form the basis for the UK’s on-going negotiations with the Commission and other member states.
The FSA is calling for views from interested parties to ensure that the UK Government response to the proposals takes into account the views of all affected sectors, including the potential for different impacts in different parts of the UK.
The consultation documents can be found at the link below. They have been developed in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.