The HVE label does not comply with European law, according to the producers of organic products

The HVE label does not comply with European law, according to the producers of organic products

The HVE mark, which gives the right to aid under the new French National Strategic Plan (PSN), does not respect European law according to the National Federation of Organic Agriculture (FNAB).

It is a French peculiarity. HVE Certification for High Environmental Value was implemented in 2011 to encourage farmers to initiate an ecological transition. Giving the right to tax breaks (€76 million in 2021), this label will open the doors to the environmental scheme, the new “Green Pay” for the future CAP 2023-2027.

If the specifications are supposed to drive operators toward moderate use of pesticides, fertilizers and water and toward better consideration of biodiversity, advocates of organic in particular point to weak requirements that make sesame allocation too systematic. On the government side and HVE promoters, we highlight the overarching and incentive side of the system. Perhaps a march toward membership, at least in a complementary way.

In 2021, the highly institutionalized French Bureau for Biodiversity lamented in an unpublished study the lack of ” Environmental added value “The Audit Bureau confirmed that the HVE mark” don’t come […] There is not enough environmental guarantee at present FNAB, which has seen this competitor with a bleak look from the start, is attacking it on a legal level for the first time. In a memo published on June 7, a representative of organic producers denounced numerous violations of European law.

PSN regulations and union law

FNAB first deplores the breach of PSN regulations (Article 31) which specify that an environmental planner must intervene to reward practices that are favorable to the environment and climate.

On March 31, the European Commission already noted these regulatory weaknesses in the French PSN, in particular with regard to the principle of aid conditionality. The CEO criticized France for considering the HVE and the organic label the same way in allocating environmental scheme aid, and requested that ” To distinguish between wage levels. »

Just as the protection of the environment and consumers is a fundamental principle of the European treaties, all policies must be directed towards these goals, which is expected from the Common Agricultural Policy. Including HVE in the ecosystem does not meet this requirement Fiona Marti, who is responsible for European affairs at FNAB, told EURACTIV.

Union lawyers also denounced the right of HVE-sealed farms to benefit from public order. The Climate and Resilience Act now requires group catering to be 50% sustainable, including 20% ​​organic. Thus potentially 30% of HVE products. This preferential treatment, such as the tax breaks that HVE farms benefit from, gives, according to FNAB, a comparative advantage that creates a distortion of competition between member states.

Another complaint against the certification: inconsistency with EU general law, which notably contains the principle of equality between farms. ” When we see the unjustified treatment of French HVE farms compared to foreign farms, we are violating this principle, while these do not provide additional environmental benefits. ‘ continues Fiona Marty.

naming future

At the end of April, former Minister Julian Denormandy, in a letter to the Commissioner, acknowledged some of the ” non-conformity Regarding compliance with the regulatory framework, he is ready to I recommend While the second edition of PSN is being drafted, the ministry is preparing a file HVE Renewed ».

Certification can be removed from access path B, which depends on the input share in farm turnover in particular (<30%), to retain only path A based on the four indicators such as biodiversity, phytosanitary strategy, fertilization and irrigation management.

And while there is a meeting on Wednesday (June 8) at the ministry on this reform, FNAB does not expect major changes though.” last card » Legal action against the HVE mark. For Fiona Marty, There is no real desire to modify the specifications in depth, even if NGOs have high expectations. Only marginal reviews can be expected “.

Contacted by EURACTIV, Laurent Brault, President of the National Association for the Advancement of High Environmental Value (HVE) Certification, “ sad These are frequent attacks emanating from membership. ” These are two devices that work in parallel. Membership advocates want 100% organic. However, we know very well that membership cannot be open to all operators and all sectors. We must also encourage traditional farming to provide ecological conditions He explains.

In 2021, 19,216 farms received HVE certification, representing 3.1% of the French useful agricultural area (UAA), versus 9.5% for organic. The government aims to establish 50,000 farms in 2030.

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