The cultivation of ornamental plants plays an important part in the agricultural activity of the Community. The quality of material used for propagation is central in determining whether a crop is healthy, so to ensure that growers throughout the Community receive propagating material of the highest standard possible, a regime governing the marketing of propagating material was set up through Council Directive 98/56/EC of 20 July 1998 on the marketing of propagating material of ornamental plants (which repealed and replaced Council Directive 1991/682/EEC). Directive 98/56/EC specifies the standards that propagating material must meet if it is to be marketed within the EU and designates suppliers as being responsible for ensuring quality in the first instance.
The Directive also recognises that the identity of any propagating material must be conveyed accurately to customers and so lays down criteria regarding the identification of varieties, their labelling and the separation and marking of different lots. Material from third countries may be marketed within the Community provided that it affords equivalent guarantees in all respects to propagating material produced in the Community and complying with Community rules.
The Commission has adopted measures to facilitate the operation of the Directive, in particular:
- Commission Directive 93/49/EEC of 23 June 1993 setting out the schedule indicating the conditions to be met by ornamental plant propagating material, amended by Commission Directive 1999/67/EC, lists as an annex those harmful organisms and diseases the presence of which is deemed to be of sufficient significance that additional conditions may be applied.
- Commission Directive 1999/66/EC of 28 June 1999 setting out requirements as to the label or other document made out by the supplier, specifies what information needs to be present on any such label or document for it to be deemed sufficient.
- Commission Directive 1999/68/EC of 28 June 1999 setting out additional provisions for lists of varieties of ornamental plants as kept by suppliers under Council Directive 98/56/EC, clarifies what information needs to be kept by a supplier in this situation.