The Organic Unit of the Directorate General Agriculture (DG AGRI) of the European Commission is the scheme owner working with the European Parliament and Member State authorities. The regulation (EC) 834 of 2007 provides the framework for the rules on the production and sale of organic products in Europe including imports.
Since January 2009 all control bodies with activities outside the EU (whether based there or in the EU) with products destined for EU markets must demonstrate that they implement a control system and use a production standard which has been assessed as equivalent to the rules applied inside Europe.
The IOAS’ role in this programme is as an assessor but we make a recommendation on equivalence. The European Commission is the ultimate decision-maker.
Certification bodies are assessed against ISO/IEC 17065 and the control requirements set down in Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and its various implementing regulations. The Commission also issues from time to time guidance documents on required controls measures and procedures.
The production standard used outside of the European Union may not be the text of the regulations but must be one designed for implementation in the third country. This must be separately assessed as equivalent against the production standards contained in those same regulations.
On completion of the assessment, the IOAS prepares an assessment report giving a full description of the certification body and its implementation of its equivalent certification scheme. This report provides the core of the information which the certification body has to submit to the Organic Unit of DG AGRI of the European Commission and the basis for recognition of equivalence. The listing of the certification body states the categories of production included and the countries for which it is qualified. Continued recognition status requires annual surveillance and the IOAS requires certification bodies enrolled in this scheme to sign a surveillance contract which sets out rights and obligations of both parties.
The scope is defined by the following product categories:
- A – Unprocessed plant products;
- B – Live or unprocessed animal products;
- C – Aquaculture products;
- D – Processed agricultural products for use as food;
- E – Procesed agricultural products for use as feed;
- F – Seeds and propagating material.
First steps in accreditation are as follows:
- Complete the standard IOAS application form
The IOAS European Recognition Programme Operating Manual provides full guidance on implementation of this scheme.