The European Nurserystock Association (ENA) expects to be able to "do good work" on plant health, although there remain disagreements in some areas, according to UK representative Tim Edwards
Speaking after a meeting in Sicily last month, Boningale Nurseries chairman Edwards said: "ENA is finding itself a very real role. It has been constituted as a non-profit organisation, which means it can be recognised by the EU and directly consulted on European matters. Plant health is an area where we'll be able to do some good work.
"Northern European members are concerned about plant health. It's easy for the UK, because we're not exporters, to take a logical view. We should be restricting or stopping international traffic of plants. I don't want to see plants coming in from outside the EU. But countries where exports are very important want to take every opportunity to export.
"In an ideal world they'd like to export to China and the USA, and see the opportunity to import from there and have the plants touch the ground and be shipped off again. Brits don't want that.
"We heard a presentation from Italy customs and excise talking about how they were speeding up movement of paperwork to allow imports to move around with less restriction. They didn't mention the impacts or getting the stock inspected in the country of origin - for instance, China.
"We can detect different standpoints in different nations. The UK is ahead of most countries in awareness of plant-health issues, which is obviously a message of concern. Part of ENA's role is to help other nations catch up."
Portugal was not represented at the meeting after dropping out for financial reasons. Edwards said the Italian and Spanish markets are equally internally challenged, leading to an increasing reliance on exporting.
Worldwide round table held to discuss common challenges
"Nurserymen across the world are facing similar challenges and opportunities. The European Nurserystock Association (ENA) recognised this and decided to arrange the first worldwide round table where nurserymen could discuss those challenges and consider a way to address them. With 19 countries present, and messages of support from many others, this has been a positive start in bringing the worldwide nurserystock industry together. We all agreed that this has been a very useful meeting and we will be looking to convene another in two years' time. I am very pleased we have reached agreement to call on Governments, authorities and all involved in the supply chain to make greater efforts to promote the benefits of nurserystock. Every extra plant planted will play a small part in improving the environment and making the world a better place."
Maurizio Lapponi, president, ENA