Plant Heritage expresses its concerns over latest EU developments

Garden conservation charity Plant Heritage has expressed its concerns after proposed new European legislation on plant reproductive material was thrown into confusion following a vote against the proposals by the EU Parliament.

The plant reproductive materials regulations, which could endanger many National Plant Collections, numerous nurseries and endanger the survival of many ornamental plants, was rejected by the Parliament in Brussels yesterday amid concerns that it would give the Commission too much power, and leave European countries without any leeway to tailor the new rules to their needs.
The Commission said while it was prepared to enter discussions to improve the proposal, it was not prepared to withdraw it. As a result Parliament closed the first reading, voting against the Commission’s draft text by 650 votes to 15.

Chair of the Agricultural Committee, Paolo De Castro, said the vote showed the depth of Parliament’s dissatisfaction with the Commission’s proposal, which failed to meets its core objectives such as simplifying the rules and promoting innovation.

Plant Heritage Conservation Officer Mercy Morris said that the industry now needed to establish the impact of the developments and clarify what could be done moving forwards.
Morris said: "It appears to be impossible to predict what will happen next; though it would be very disappointing, in the run-up to the European elections to have the opinions of our democratically elected representatives ignored. I would urge everyone involved to maintain the co-operation between the different areas of UK horticulture that has served us well so far, and be vigilant for future developments."
The current wording of the legislation requires all plant varieties sold in Europe to be listed on an official register thus making it illegal to sell unregistered varieties.

At present only 2,000 of the estimated 77,000 cultivars sold in UK are registered, and with an administrative cost of as much as £500 per variety to register, many small nurseries could be forced to close.

This would also include a large proportion of National Plant Collections, many of which are held in large and small nurseries.

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