STC Number - 469

EU Regulation on high risk plants (Regulation (EU) 2016/2031)

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Israel
Supported by: Canada; Kenya; United States of America
First date raised: November 2019 G/SPS/R/97, paras. 3.14-3.19
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/EU/272; G/SPS/GEN/1748
Products covered: 06 Live trees and other plants; bulbs, roots and the like; cut flowers and ornamental foliage
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Adoption/publication/entry into force of reg.; Appropriate level of protection; Certification, control and inspection; Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Pests; Plant health; Provisional Measures; Risk assessment; Technical assistance; Territory protection; Undue delays
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 2019, Israel raised a concern regarding EU Regulation 2016/2031 notified in G/SPS/N/EU/272, dealing with importation of high-risk plants, which would enter into force on 14 December 2019. The European Union had sent a clarification letter to all IPPC contact points in May 2019, which stated that introduction of plants listed as high-risk plants from non-EU countries would be allowed only if (1) that country had submitted a demand for the importation together with the technical dossier; (2) the dossier had been assessed; and (3) the European Union had decided whether and under which conditions the prohibition would be lifted.

Israel remarked that listing of the specific plant genera lacked scientific justification and imposition of the ban was disproportionate to actual risk, rendering the EU measure inconsistent with Articles 2.2, 5.4 and 5.8 of the SPS Agreement. Israel further regretted that the European Union was unable to carry out the risk analysis in an expedient manner. EFSA's information requirements increased the burden and necessitated multiple additional submissions of information, some of which did not appear relevant to assessment of risk emanating from Israel, in contradiction with Annex C(1)(c) of the SPS Agreement. Israel was exporting 12 of the plants on the high-risk plant list to the European Union, and information dossiers on five plant genera had been submitted, but the assessment had not been completed on any of the dossiers. The uncertainty imposed by the prospective ban had severely affected Israel's producers and disrupted ongoing trade. Israel urged the European Union to reconsider the letter sent to IPPC contact points and perform risk assessments on plants while continuing ongoing trade.

Canada expressed its concern about the approaching deadline of 14 December, when the EU Regulation would come into force. Canada had been working with the European Union to seek clarification on the process of continuing trade beyond the deadline, as well as information required by the European Union for development of a comprehensive dossier. Canada called for additional time to be allotted for further bilateral consultations with other Members before any trade-restrictive measures would be put into place. Canada suggested that the 14 December deadline be maintained only for submission of information; then a transition period of at least six months should allow for trade to continue, during which the European Union would undertake comprehensive dossier reviews, complete risk assessments and a collaborative consultation process.

The United States shared the concern. The US statement is contained in G/SPS/GEN/1748.

Kenya also invited the European Union to consider granting a longer transition period to complete pest risk analyses under the said EU measure, particularly in the case of developing countries.

The European Union remarked that Regulation 2016/2031 was necessary to ensure the appropriate level of protection in the European Union. The measure had been adopted after a preliminary assessment had revealed that some plant species posed high risks. The European Union highlighted the efforts made to disseminate information on the new plant health regime and minimize trade disruption. EFSA had published guidance in October 2018 and organised two webinars in 2019 to assist national authorities in preparation of dossiers. In response to Israel, the European Union clarified that the first two dossiers that had been submitted, in relation to Albizia julibrissin and Robinia pseudoacacia, were still under review.