Tension exposed by plant regulation proposal

The British stakeholder group working on European Commission plans for plant reproductive material (PRM) regulation has reviewed latest developments that campaigners say caused tension between the Commission and European Parliament.

This follows the Commission's decision not to reject the PRM regulation in response to the European Parliament's request. It is now up to the European Council to decide what to do with the regulation that will now be discussed by COREPER, the committee of permanent representatives in the EU.

There are four options that will be debated:

- Fall in line with the wishes of the European Parliament and reject the regulation.

- Halt further action until a new Parliament is in position after elections (end of 2014).

- European Council to discuss the matter and create an idea of what a modified proposal would look like, with the Commission rewriting it.

- European Council to create a radical redraft, with the disadvantage of prolonging the bad feeling between it and European Parliament.

Plants for Europe owner Graham Spencer said: "The refusal of the Commission to withdraw the proposal after being requested to do so by Parliament has resulted in a certain amount of tension in Brussels.

"This regulation was supposed to pass through the legislative process using the new co-decision procedure that was the outcome of the Lisbon Treaty discussions and the apparent failure of that process does not reflect well on any of the parties, particularly the Commission."

He added that lobbying could be needed to change Article 50 (requirement for officially recognised description) to a system where varietal identity is bound up with assured traceability and removal of PRM for gardeners from the regulation, or at least making the requirements absolutely minimal.

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