Producer organisations (POs) are the basic actors in the fruit and vegetables regime. In the face of ever greater concentration of demand, grouping supply in this way strengthens producers' position in the market.
The EU fruit and vegetable regime supports operational programmes implemented by recognised producer organisations (POs), by making a funding contribution to the programmes' operational funds.
Recognition of interbranch organisations (IBOs) is favoured where they proof to be sufficiently representative of the various occupational categories of the fruit and vegetables sector and they carry out practical actions contributing to the goals of the scheme.
The regime requires national authorities to recognise any group of producers that applies for PO status - if they meet a number of requirements, especially that the grouping should:
- be voluntary
- contribute to the general aims of the regime
- prove its utility by the scope and efficiency of the services offered to members
A recognised PO may set up an operational fund to finance its operational programme. This fund is financed by the financial contribution of members (or the producer organisation itself) and the EU financial assistance. As a general rule, the EU financial assistance is limited to 50% of the total operational fund, but in specific cases it may be increased at 60%.
In regions where producers haven't formed organisations to any great extent, national governments may provide national funding, over and above the operational fund. In some cases, this may be partially reimbursed by the EU.
The national authorities must set up a national strategy for sustainable operational programmes, to define which measures are eligible for support.
POs' operational programmes must be approved by the relevant national authorities.
Both the programmes and the national strategy are monitored and evaluated by the Commission, based on a common set of performance indicators.
POs are also required to file annual reports on the implementation of their operational programmes with the authority managing their country's strategy. The annual reports must accompany the applications for aid.
Similarly, each country must send the Commission an annual report on all their POs, PGs, operational funds and programmes, and recognition plans. For details on the report format, see the Country files.
At the request of a producer organisation (PO), a Member State may also make binding, for a limited period, some of the rules agreed on within that organisation on other non-member producers in the region or regions where the PO is operating.
Member States may recognise as interbranch organisations in the fruit and vegetables sector all legal entities established on their territory that fulfil certain specific conditions, including:
- carrying out specific activities contributing to the goals of the scheme in one or more regions in the Member State concerned
- representing a significant share of the production of, trade in and/or processing of fruit and vegetables and products processed from fruit and vegetables in the region or regions in question and, where more than one region is involved, being able to demonstrate a minimum level of representativeness in each region for each of the branches that they group
At the request of a recognised interbranch organisation (IBO), a Member State may also make binding, for a limited period, some of the rules (agreements, decisions or concerted practices) agreed on within that organisation on other operators in the region or regions where the IBO carries out its activities.