Directive 2000/29/EC concerns protective measures against the introduction into the EU of organisms harmful to plants and plant products. According to Directive 2000/29/EC plants shall be considered as live plants and living parts thereof including seeds (in the botanical sense of the term, other than those not intended for planting). Living parts of plants shall be considered as fresh fruit and vegetables, tubers, corms, bulbs, rhizomes, cut flowers, branches with foliage, cut trees retaining foliage and plant tissue cultures, and plant products are products of plant origin which are unprocessed or which have undergone simple preparation.
The provisions of this Directive also relate to wood in any form, from the original round shape with or without bark, to sawdust or packaging material and wood dunnage.
Certain plants, plant products and other objects listed in Part B, Annex V entering the EU must have a phytosanitary certificate guaranteeing that they are:
- Properly inspected before export from a third country
- Free from quarantine harmful organisms and practically free from other harmful organisms
- In line with the plant health regulations of the importing country.
The exporting country’s national plant protection authorities issues the certificates. Once in the EU, a plant passport may replace the phytosanitary certificate for imported plants, plant products and other objects which are also listed in part A of Annex V.
A large number of products can be imported into the EU but are subject to an inspection by the competent authority (in Belgium: FASFC). Based on the regulation the phytosanitary inspection has to be carried out at the external border. From a technical customs point of view, the shipment can only be imported after the phytosanitary inspection has been completed with favorable result. This means that a shipment remains under customs supervision until the result of the phytosanitary inspection is know.
Directive 2008/61/EC offers the possibility of importing, for research and selection purposes, harmful organisms, prohibited plants and plant products and/or plants and plant products which do not meet the import requirements, provided that strict conditions are fulfilled.
Some plant products (hay and straw) have to fulfill also veterinarian requirements. Only a limited number of countries are allowed to import these plant products into the European Union (Commission Regulation n° 136/2004)
Phytosanitary border inspection posts (BIP)
In Belgium, phytosanitary import controls are carried out at the phytosanitary border inspection posts authorized in accordance with the provisions of the RD of 25 April 2017. The same decree also provides for the relocation of the physical check to an approved inspection site.
Details of border inspection posts and approved inspection sites in Belgium (PDF) (01/08/2017)
Inspections and decision
The recipient of the consignment informs the FASFC (at the border inspection post) via a partially completed phytosanitary transport document (or in the near future via the TRACES system). Each consignment is subjected to a documentary check.
During this inspection, the phytosanitary certificate, which is issued by third countries, shall be examined. This certificate may have a different appearance depending on the exporting country. It must nonetheless meet certain requirements according to ISPM 12. The FASFC will check whether it meets these requirements, whether it is valid and original and whether the correct formulations and codes have been used.
During this inspection, it is verified whether the contents of the consignment corresponds to the information (inter alia variety and quantity) on the phytosanitary certificate.
Plant health check
During this inspection, it is verified, based on a visual examination and in certain cases analysis of samples, whether the plants or plant products are free from harmful organisms and whether they meet the specific requirements of the abovementioned Directive.
Identity and plant health checks may also be carried out at approved inspection sites using the original phytosanitary certificate and the phytosanitary transport document.
If the result of the checks/inspections (documents, identity, phytosanitary, plant health) is favorable, the consignment is released. The FASFC will complete the phytosanitary transport document. This document can be presented to the customs as proof of the favorable plant health check and release.
The consignment may also be refused due to the following reasons:
- The presence of harmful organisms;
- The lack of the original phytosanitary certificate;
- The phytosanitary certificate does not meet the requirements;
- The identity of the consignment does not correspond to the phytosanitary certificate (the composition of the consignment, the plant varieties and their number do not correspond to the description given on the certificate).
If (symptoms of) harmful organisms are detected, a sample is taken and sent to an approved laboratory. The laboratory will identify the harmful organism. The FASFC will then decide which measures need to be taken.
The recipient is officially informed by the FASFC about the reason of refusal and the measures to be taken.
Following measures may be taken: destruction or transport outside the EU borders. In the latter case, the shipment may be transported to another country which has other requirements than the EU. The shipment must meet the conditions in this country. Special treatment obliged by the FASFC is also possible.