Stakeholder participation and stakeholder protest: On the planned revision of the EU Organic regulation : Stakeholder participation and stakeholder protest: On the planned revision of the EU Organic regulation Alexander Zorn, Christian Eichert, Stephan Dabbert In Germany organic stakeholders largely reject the draft of the revised EU Organic regulation. This was evident at a workshop held within the framework of the ORGAP project, which brought together leading representatives of the organic sector in March 2006. The objective of the workshop was to develop indicators Institute for Farm Management (410a), University of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany Contact: www.uni-hohenheim.de/i410a The concept of good governance can be helpful to judge the revision process from a broader perspective. In 2001 the EU Commission introduced a set of governance principles in a white paper on “European Governance”. The objective of the governance reform is to “open up policy-making to make it more inclusive and accountable.” Good Governance The draft of the new regulation is a consequence of the European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming. Thus the very fact that a revision is planned should not come as a surprise. Stakeholder involvement during a crucial phase of the development of the draft regulation was not adequate. Our thanks go to the participants of the workshop; as authors of this poster, however, we alone and not they are responsible for its contents. Here the sector’s complaint is that opportunities for participation in future will continue to be inadequate, even though the development of implementation provisions is of crucial importance to everyday practice. Stakeholder Integration In the light of good gover-nance, the principles of sub-sidiarity and stakeholder in-volvement in the revision of the regulation have not yet been adequately considered.
The international trend con-cerning organic sector regulation is moving towards increasing subsidiarity and stakeholder integration (Aus-tralia and Canada are inter-esting examples). Europe should not shut its eyes to this trend; further development of its regulatory model for the organic sector should be in keeping with the above mentioned principles. The balance between private sector and government with respect to the regulation of the organic sector has changed over time. Also stake-holder integration was different during different stages.
The first version of the revision of EU Organic regulation was largely developed without direct consultations with organic sector associations. This is certainly one of the reasons for the vehement criticism confronting the EU Commission in spring 2006. Furthermore, the provisions of the new draft give the Commission additional sway in future concerning the implementation of the regulation. In order to illustrate the concerns of stakeholders some of their typical statements and arguments are presented. Some actors in the sector have commented on the new draft regulation in drastic terms, feeling that the sector is being disenfranchised, “having its child taken away”. Other critical statements were:
“A sandbox is set up for the sector where it can engage with itself; in the background, the EU or the Commission, is pursuing different objectives.”
“Complete rejection of the idea to revise the regulation.” One key concern of the stakeholders is that the perceived balance between private sector and government within organic food regulation is changed and power is being shifted towards government. Indications for that according to the stakeholders are
the change in decision procedure,
the Annexes become Implementation Procedures with details not yet known,
- issues surrounding labeling (compulsory use of EU-ORGANIC or the EU organic logo, easier access to private logos, difficulties to distinguish premium organic products in the market).
Another key concern is the fact, that the draft regulation was largely developed without consultation of stakeholders. This poster concentrates on the last point. The accompanying paper addresses all issues. Detailed information on sources and the full text of our manuscript are available on the Conference homepage http://www.orgprints.org/joc2006.php?id=int_conf_joint2006_3 The involvement of all actors and stakeholders in the policy-making process (participation) is an important principle. As a matter of principle, before the EU takes action, it should always clarify the issue of subsidiarity, i.e. whether any action is necessary at all and, if so, whether it should be taken at EU level. on the evaluation of the European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming. The concerns voiced by stakeholders on the revision of the regulation were so strong that we consider it appropriate to i) report them and ii) to put them into perspective as a contribution to further discussion. This is the objective of this poster. Stakeholders‘ Views and Statements There are indications that this is changing. The private sector should use the chance to suggest changes to the regulation. From the authors point of view the principles of subsidiarity and balanced private-public partnership should be key principles in the further revisions. Background and Objective Conclusions Contact & Sources OF = Organic Farming