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     How can I become eligible to label my product "organic" in the European Union?

     Organic food products originating from non-EC countries may be imported and marketed in the EC with an organic label if it is accepted that the products are produced and certified according to procedures equivalent to those of the EC. In practice, two options provide authorization to export organic products to the EC: 1) When a third country has established and implemented organic standards, it may apply to the European Commission for inclusion into the EC List of Article 11. Known as the Article 11 list, countries on this list can export products certified by an approved domestic certification body to the EC without the need for additional certification or accreditation. Note that this is valid only if the domestic certification body is specifically registered in the Article 11 list. Each consignment should be accompanied by a document certifying that standards and certification measures are equivalent to those applicable in the EC. 2) If the exporting country is not on the Article 11 list, the exporter should ask its importer in the EC country to apply for an individual permit for import. An individual EC member state may authorize an importer to import products from a country not on the Article 11 list. Under this provision, the importer should apply to the designated authorities in the EC member country for an import permission and the application should be accompanied by documentation on the equivalence of standards and control measures. The producer and the exporter will have to be certified in accordance with EC procedures, which has to be done in co-operation with an accredited certification body. Import permits are issued for a certain amount of specific products from specified countries. They are valid for defined periods. They are granted to specific importers and valid only for those importers for import entry into those importers' country. Once imported into an EC member country, the products may be marketed freely within the EC. In general, the criteria for granting the import permit are shifting away from evaluation at the production level towards approval of the certification arrangements, including the certification bodies. In order to ensure equivalence in the effectiveness of inspection and certification measures, third-country certification bodies must satisfy the requirements of standards EN 45011 or ISO/IEC Guide 65:1996. See the section on standards and regulations on this web page.

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