EEA EFTA Comment on proposal for new regulatory framework for fertilisers

Published 10-03-2017
Illustration of fertilisers
On 10 March, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway submitted a joint comment on the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on making CE marked fertilising products available on the market.
The first main objective of this proposal is to incentivise large scale fertiliser production in the EEA from domestic organic or secondary raw materials, in line with the Circular Economy action plan, by transforming waste into nutrients for crops. To this effect, the scope of the new regulation would be extended to include innovative fertilising products, i.e. fertilisers produced from organic or secondary raw materials. Today, virtually all product types included in the existing Fertilisers Regulation are conventional, inorganic fertilisers.
The second main policy objective of the proposal is to introduce harmonised cadmium limits for phosphate fertilisers, in order to minimise the negative impact on the environment and on human health. Setting common cadmium limits should also remove the current market fragmentation due to national limits in some EEA States.
Whilst the EEA EFTA States welcome the effort to strengthen the internal market for fertilisers, the comment calls for further consideration of certain elements of the proposal.
Due to inadequate scientific data on the effects of many of the organic contaminants encompassed by the proposal, the final regulation should contain a clear statement to the effect that market surveillance authorities may apply the precautionary principle. Furthermore, it should allow for national restrictions on use.  Among the situations where such national restrictions are reasonable are where there are high levels of contaminants in the soil, in the product or in sensitive water bodies.
The EEA EFTA States are particularly concerned that the proposal does not set maximum values for copper and zinc, which could lead to adverse consequences. Repeated use of products containing high levels of zinc and copper may negatively impact organisms and the food chain, as well as posing a threat to human health. The EEA EFTA States suggest introducing labelling requirements at a level of 50 and 150 mg/kg dry matter for copper and zinc respectively. 
Concerning cadmium levels in mineral fertilisers, the proposal envisages a scheduled decrease over a 12-year period, during which the limits would move from 60 mg/kg P2O5 to 20 mg/kg P2O5. The EEA EFTA States believe that countries that already have a derogation in place should be able to keep it, rather than being obliged to increase the levels during the interim period. 
Under the current legal framework, fertilisers may be labelled based on either the oxide form or the elemental form. However, the proposal only allows for labelling based on the oxide form.  The EEA EFTA States consider the proposed changes on labelling to be overly restrictive and unnecessarily costly, and therefore call for the current system of alternative labelling to be kept. 
Full EEA EFTA Comment available here

What is an EEA EFTA Comment?

One of the ways in which the EEA EFTA States participate in shaping EU legislation is by submitting comments on important policy issues. A typical EEA EFTA Comment provides brief commentary and suggestions regarding Commission initiatives such as green papers or legislative proposals. The comments are endorsed by the Standing Committee of the EFTA States and officially noted by the EEA Joint Committee, after they have been sent to the relevant services in the Commission, the European Parliament and/or the Council.

More EEA EFTA Comments are available here


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