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Other Issues (07-02-2006)

Plant Health: Debarking requirements for wood packaging material delayed

The implementation of a new requirement for the removal of bark (de-barking) from all wood packaging material entering the EU has been postponed from 1 March 2006 to 1 January 2009. The EU requirements for wood packaging material are based on the FAO International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM n°15), and are designed to stop potentially harmful plant pests from entering the EU in wood packaging. ISPM n°15 states that countries should have the option to demand that wood packaging material is debarked for plant health protection reasons, so long as there is sufficient technical justification. New EU legislation which entered into force in March 2005 requires the mandatory debarking of wood packaging material following a transitional period. Extensive scientific and technical data to justify this measure was provided by the Commission last year. In its decision this week to extend the deadline of the debarking requirement, however, the Commission wants to allow the international community sufficient time to re-evaluate the phytosanitary risk of bark. The Commission will therefore closely follow the international review of ISPM n°15, which should address the EU’s concern about the presence of bark attached to wood packaging material.

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