ANVE leads the Italian industry to adopt new EU plant health regulations
Author: Dr Audrey Gerber

On 14th December 2019 the new EU regulation 2016/2031 comes into force. The new regulation sets in place formal documentation and processes that will be required for plant movement across European borders and within EU member states. This aims to modernise the plant health regime, while ensuring safe trade, at a time when international trade has become faster and busier, and the risk of introduction and rapid spread of plant pests and diseases is greater than before.

Speaking at the meeting held on site at Vivai Capitanio nursery in Bari, Michele Emiliano, President of the Region of Puglia, said that this regulation was important to safeguard Italian and European horticultural production. According to European Nursery Association figures, the Italian nursery stock industry is the highest value in Europe and is one of the largest international trade countries in horticulture, alongside the Netherlands and Germany.

 

Urgent issue

Within the European context, Josep Pagès, Secretary General of ENA, said that member states are seeing this as an urgent issue and as a valuable opportunity to collaborate to stop pests and diseases before they reach European ports and borders. From an international perspective, AIPH supports this new regulation, believing that it brings the industry closer to full traceability that enables effective and efficient response to pest and disease threats. One significant change that the regulation brings is that the 35 genera/species on the high risk list will be prohibited entry into the EU, unless the third country formally applies for a derogation, and can guarantee that plants are free of EU quarantine organisms.

Restlessness among participants

Leonardo Capitanio, President of ANVE, considers that it is too early to judge the feeling of Italian horticultural businesses to these new regulations. This was the first meeting to present in detail what the regulation will require from all sectors of the horticultural supply chain. There was some restlessness amongst meeting participants when Anna Percoco (Phytosanitary Observation Section, Department of Agriculture, Rural and Environment of the Puglia Region) presented what changes businesses will need to make, and the responsibilities of countries and regions to establish formal processes to implement and monitor plant movement. Many horticultural and agricultural businesses in Italy are small, specialised, family owned and managed, and they may lack the capacity to independently develop new stringent protocols. Capitanio assured the meeting that ANVE is leading discussions with authorities at a national level to prepare standardised documentation, including management plans, and response protocols, to make it easier for small and large horticultural businesses to adapt and implement processes to meet the requirements of the new regulation.

Xylella

There is no doubt that the issue of Xylella remains the focus of the Italian industry, particularly in the Puglian region. Nurseries in this area are likely to be more receptive to the new regulations as they are already confronted with responding to an industry catastrophe without clear procedures in place. This certainly highlights to the industry that prevention of introduction of new threats is far preferable to managing control. This view is further strengthened when the industry considers how use of agrochemicals is become less acceptable, with many bans anticipated or already in place.

The new regulation applies to all EU member states, and this supports uniform and strict systems that safeguard not only horticultural and agricultural businesses, but also forests and natural areas. The proactive approach that ANVE is taking may well serve as an example for other countries to follow.