The European Commission has hosted a meeting of the Advisory Group on the Food Chain & Animal & Plant Health to discuss plant reproductive material (PRM).
It concluded that stakeholders must propose alternatives to disastrous PRM legislation that would have meant more red tape and further costs for growers.
HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "We are now being asked to come up with what would be acceptable to the ornamentals industry, rather than giving our opinion on what's wrong with the proposals."
HTA consultant David Brown attended the meeting as a guest of the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH). Plants for Europe owner Graham Spencer represented international breeders' group CIOPORA.
Spencer said: "The commission is seeking representations from stakeholders for a new text for the PRM regulation to replace what was rejected by the European Parliament. They were clearly shaken by the scale of the vote against the proposal.
"The most interesting thing was that the commission are seeking clear and concrete proposals. This is a change from their previous approach and they were clear that they did not want to just hear what we do not like about the previous proposal.
"They seem to accept the need to provide the lightest level of regulation possible for the ornamentals industry. They are also clear that 'PRM for gardeners' should be removed from the scope of the regulation. The concept of a 'one-size-fits-all regulation but with exemptions' is now seen as undesirable/too problematic and they would like to move towards a system of 'parallel solutions' for different areas of agriculture.
"For example, they foresee that forestry PRM is best dealt with separately from other PRM. We are optimistic that if we can come up with a workable solution for ornamental PRM it may be accepted by the commission as a parallel solution."
But Spencer added: "Some areas remain problematic. The commission still seems attached to the concept of 'niche markets' for exemptions but fails to understand that such niches can rarely be defined in terms of geography alone."
Spencer and Brown said niche markets must be defined through the needs and wants of the customer, regardless of location.
The AIPH, HTA and CIOPORA have agreed to work together to coordinate their responses. Spencer said: "The NFU, AIPH and CIOPORA all clearly lobbied for the removal of ornamentals from the regulation and this will form the basis of our proposals."
Submissions must be made to the commission by 15 September. New text for the PRM regulation is unlikely to be published before 2015.
Meeting The agenda
- Plant reproductive material (PRM) proposal.
- Implementing measures on the fruit PRM directive.
- Nagoya Protocol implementation.
The meeting was chaired by DG SANCO deputy director general Ladislav Miko and by Dana Simion, who is responsible for plant health at DG SANCO.