Phytosanitary certificates will have to accompany most plants and plant products — including some foods — entering the European Union (EU) counties beginning Dec. 14.

The new EU rules mean expanded inspections for U.S. plant products. Before plants and other raw and minimally processed plant products can enter EU member states, or Switzerland or Montenegro, the shipments must be inspected and receive a phytosanitary certificate.

Without the necessary certificate, shipments will be rejected with recourse.

The new EU regulations are to prevent the introduction of plant insects and disease pests. The EU made the change in 2016, but delays delayed the implementation to next week.

The new regulations affect all plant products, virtually. While some plant products already required phytosanitary certification, many have not had any requirement to enter the EU market.

Plant products that will now require phytosanitary certification include:

  • Fruit and vegetables (except that preserved by deep-freezing.)
  • Cut flowers
  • Cut trees or branches retaining foliage
  • Grain or grain products
  • Hop bales, pellets, and cones
  • Seeds
  • Other unprocessed or minimally processed plant products, including wood.

In addition to the new requirements for certificates, the EU will ban 36 high-risk plant groups that will be completely prohibited from entering the Continent.

State agencies, such as the Washington State Department of Agriculture, are authorized to provide exports with certification services for the new EU requirements. Inspections and phytosanitary certificates are required for each and every shipment after Dec. 14.

EU Background

In October 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests (“Plant Health Law”).

On Dec. 13, 2016, the Regulation entered into force and will be applicable beginning Dec. 14, 2019.

These rules constitute the EU Plant Health Regime, which has been in place since 1977 and was fully reviewed by the European Commission in May 2013.

The new rules aim to modernize the plant health regime, enhancing more effective measures for the protection of the Union’s territory and its plants. They also aim to ensure a safe trade, as well as to mitigate the impact of climate change on the health of our crops and forests. Different stakeholders will benefit from this new approach:

  • Citizens: better protection of landscapes and forests, public and private green spaces, reduced need for pesticide use;
  • Growers and farmers: simpler and more transparent documentation (plant passport), better protection of their production, more financial support for fighting pests;
  • Other business operators: common operators’ register, harmonized traceability;
  • Public authorities: EU financial support for the implementation of surveillance and eradication/containment measures.

Several delegated and implementing acts will be adopted by the Commission by 2019 to ensure the correct implementation of the legislation across the EU Member States. The Commission will duly consult Member States’ experts, the European Parliament and the Council, as well as other relevant stakeholders during the drafting of these acts, in line with the principles of better Regulation.

From Dec. 14, 2019, all plants (including living parts of plants) will need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate to enter into the EU unless they are listed in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 as exempted from this general requirement (not required to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate). Currently, the list of plants exempted from the obligation to carry a phytosanitary certificate from Dec. 14, 2019, are the following fruits: pineapples, coconuts, durians, bananas, and dates.

High-risk plants

The Plant Health Law increases the prevention against the introduction of new pests via imports from third countries. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019establishes the list of high risk plants the introduction of which into the EU territory will be provisionally prohibited beginning Dec. 14, until a full risk assessment has been carried out.

The rules concerning the procedure to be followed in order to carry out the risk assessment of high-risk plants are detailed in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2018.

Priority pests

Article 6(2) of the Plant Health Law empowers the Commission to establish a list of the priority pests. Published in the Official Journal on Oct. 11 2019, the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1702 lists 20 quarantine pests as priority pests, including Xylella fastidiosa, the Japanese beetle, the Asian long-horned beetle, Citrus greening and Citrus Black Spot, whose economic, environmental and social impact on EU territory is the most severe.

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