The agriculture committee of the European Parliament on October 14 voted in favour of new rules to curb the growing influx of plant pests, such as olive grove killer Xylellafastidiosa.
The draft rules, informally agreed by MEPs and member states last year, will introduce new preventive and rapid response mechanisms for suspect plant imports, step up pest surveillance efforts in the EU and require all member states to draw up outbreak contingency plans, according to a European Parliament press release.
The new rules backed by agriculture committee MEPs include measures to quickly identify plants and plant products from third countries likely to pose new or high pest or other plant health risks and empower the EU Commission to ban them from entering the EU.
The MEPs also called for a plant health certificate requirement to all plants and plant products from non-EU countries, regardless of whether they are imported by professional operators, clients of postal services, internet clients or passengers in their luggage – only private travellers importing small quantities of particular low-risk plants will be exempt.
An extension of the so-called “plant passport” system to all movements of plants for planting within the EU was also approved, among other measures.
A vote in the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg will be held next month.