Due to the increasing international air and maritime traffic, travels and Internet trade the non-commercial introductions of plants and plant products represent significant pest risk.
In the new Plant Health Regime the EU regulates these pathways, similarly to other biosecurity risks. Awareness raising among public, stakeholders and Member States authorities is required by Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 (PHR) as well as controls of e-commerce to comply with rules by Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (OCR). Regulations establishe rules to determine the phytosanitary risks posed by pests and measures to reduce those risks for plants to an acceptable level.
PHR Article 45 prescribes, that information shall be provided to travelers and clients of postal services by Member States competent authority at seaports, airports and international transport operators about risks for plant health, if passengers bring in their baggage or order online high risk plants or other prohibited goods, or import regulated goods, which need to comply with special requirements and obtain phytosanitary certificates.
OCR Article 47 prescribes that competent authorities shall perform official controls at the border control post (BCP) of first arrival into the Union, to ascertain compliance with the rules, including PHR. Operators responsible for the consignment shall ensure that plants and other regulated goods are presented for official controls at the BCP. Official controls on the consignments upon arrival to the BCP shall include documentary checks, identity checks and physical checks (OCR Art 49). Prohibitions, restrictions and requirements for plants and goods, which are defined by Phytosanitary Conditions Regulation (EU) 2019/2072 (PCR), therefore apply also to consignments of a non-commercial nature, unless exempted.
Regarding the e-Commerce and postal parcels, the OCR Art 48 allows the following exemptions for plants and other goods from official controls at BCP:
- (a) goods sent as trade samples or as display items for exhibitions, which are not intended to be placed on the market;
- (e) small consignments of goods sent to natural persons which are not intended to be placed on the market;
- (g) goods which have undergone specific treatment and do not exceed small quantities.
However, detailed rules on implementation of official controls of non-commercial goods still need to be adopted (DA or IA on exemptions from official controls and on small quantities).
Measures targeting pathways for quarantine pests at non-commercial imports are (PHR 2016/2031 Annex II Section 1 Point 3):
- Restrictions on the introduction and movement of quarantine pests as a commodity.
- Surveillance, visual examination, sampling and laboratory testing and where appropriate destruction of quarantine pests as a commodity.
- Restrictions on plants, plant products and other objects carried by travelers.
- Surveillance, visual examination, sampling and laboratory testing and where appropriate treatment or destruction of plants, plant products and other objects carried by travelers.
- Restrictions on vehicles, packaging and other objects used in transport of commodities.
- Surveillance, visual examination, sampling and laboratory testing and where appropriate treatment or destruction of vehicles, packaging and other objects used in transport of commodities.
- Information, data recording, communication and reporting obligations.
- Registration of professional operators concerned.
Based on PHR the Commission may set out arrangements for the presentation and use of informative material like posters and brochures in the IA, which will harmonize implementation at BCPs.
Postal services and professional operators involved in sales through distance contracts shall also make available to their clients alert information concerning plants, plant products and other objects for non-commercial imports at least through the internet, but may also use it in posters or brochures. Information that shall be available to clients, includes prohibitions, requirements and the exemptions as regards the introduction of plants, plant products and other objects into the Union territory. (PHR Article 45)