The scheme owner is the European Commission, where the administration of the EU Organic Regulation is assigned to the Organic Unit of the Directorate General Agriculture (DG AGRI), working with the European Parliament and Member State authorities. Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and its implementing rules defined in Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 and Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008, as amended by the EU Commission from time to time, provide the framework of rules for production, processing and marketing of organic products in the EU including imports.
Since January 2009 all control bodies with activities outside the EU (whether based there or in the EU) operating certification systems for products destined for EU markets must demonstrate that they implement a control system and use a production standard which have been assessed as equivalent to the rules applied inside the EU. Furthermore, these certification systems and the control bodies have to be recognised by the EU Commission.
The recognition is for specific scope and countries where the control bodies operate their equivalent system.
The IOAS offers assessment of equivalence of the certification systems of control bodies against the EU framework, concluding with recommendation whether such system may be recognised.
The European Commission is the ultimate decision maker on whether the control bodies can be recognised.
Detailed information on the EU organic regulations can be found on the EU Commission website.
Control bodies must have valid accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065 for the scope of their EU-equivalent certification system and are assessed against the production and control requirements set down in Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and its implementing rules defined in Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 and Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008, as amended by the EU Commission from time to time.
The production standard of the control bodies used outside of the European Union may not be the text of the EU Regulations but must be one designed for implementation in the third country/-ies where the control body operates its EU-equivalent certification system. This standard must be separately assessed for equivalence against the production rules contained in those same regulations.
On completion of the assessment, IOAS prepares an assessment report giving a full description of the control body and its implementation of its equivalent certification scheme. This report provides the core of the application for recognition, which the control body has to submit to the Organic Unit of DG AGRI of the European Commission and the basis for the decision on recognition of equivalence.
Upon recognition of the equivalent system of a control body the EU Commission includes the control body in an official list of recognized control bodies, available in Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008.
This listing states the categories of activity included in the recognition and the countries for which the control body is qualified.
Continued recognition status requires annual surveillance and IOAS requires certification bodies enrolled in this scheme to sign a surveillance contract which sets out rights and obligations of both parties.
The scope of the ERP includes the following categories of activities:
- A – Unprocessed plant products;
- B – Live animals or unprocessed animal products;
- C – Aquaculture products and seaweeds;
- D – Processed agricultural products for use as food;
- E – Processed agricultural products for use as feed;
- F – Vegetative propagating material and seeds for cultivation.
Please note that acceptance of new applications and/or applications for extension of scope are currently place on hold by the IOAS until the new EU Compliance programme is launched.
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.