Plant Harmful organisms in the EU – Annual report 2014

Article 16 (1) and (2) of Directive 2000/29/EC, requires that Member States immediately notify the European Commission and other Member States, of the presence or appearance of harmful organisms found on their territory or part of it, as well as the measures taken to eradicate or avoid the spread of the harmful organism concerned.

This is required whether the harmful organisms are regulated (specifically listed in European Union (EU) legislation) or not. The European Commission analyses and reports on these notifications on a continuous basis and provides monthly reports on notifications received to the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, section Plant Health, in order to assist risk management decisions at EU level.

This report provides an overview of the notifications received from Member States in 2014, as well as the main trends in the period 2010 to 2014.

The total number of notifications received annually has remained relatively stable since 2010. In 2014, a total of 220 notifications were received from 27 Member States. Approximately two thirds of these related to regulated harmful organisms. 19 were updates to previous notifications.

Some of the notifications received in 2014 give rise to concern because of the seriousness of the particular harmful organisms and because of their first finding or their spread in the EU territory. Some of these harmful organisms are currently non–regulated in the EU. However, because of the potential risk they present, they are listed in the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation Alert list, i.e. identified as good candidates for a Pest Risk Analysis.

At EU level, actions have been planned or are being taken with a view to addressing these risks. As in previous years, the number of notifications varies significantly between Member States which could reflect a different interpretation of Member States’ obligations pursuant to Article 16 (1) and (2).

Furthermore, despite some improvement compared to previous year, notifications still present a consistent lack of certain information which hinders the risk management decision process and capacity to have a clear picture of the effectiveness of phytosanitary measures implemented and of the status of the different harmful organisms in the EU. The adoption of Decision 2014/917/EU in December 2014, which sets out detailed rules for the implementation of Article 16 (1) and (2), combined with the development of a web-based notification system (EUROPHYT) and a common protocol for notifications, are expected to foster the harmonisation of practices between Member States. This should help timely decisions at EU level for an increased level of protection of the EU territory against phytosanitary risks.

In 2014, a large proportion of the outbreak notifications (72%) either did not make any reference to the source of the infestation or stated that it was unknown. Out of the 201 outbreak notifications, only 57 provided information on the possible source of the infestation. As regards movements within the EU, infested planting material is often considered as the likely source of the infestation.

Between the new risks identified the well known Xylella fastidiosa in coffee plants was the most dangerous. Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium listed in Annex IAI, was first found in the EU in 2013, in the province of Lecce in Italy where a sudden decline of olives was observed. This finding was closely followed up by the Commission in consultation with the Standing Committee, and EU emergency measures were adopted in February 2014. In addition, a Commission audit was carried out to the affected area in February 2014, followed by 3 further audits since then to assess the situation and control measures implemented by the Competent Authorities. Amongst other exchanges of information with Italy, three notifications were received in 2014 in which Italy reported new vectors, new host plants and the extent of the infestation in the Lecce region (see also section 4.2.1). Regarding the findings on Coffea plants referred to in section 4.2.1, an import ban on such plants from Costa Rica and Honduras has been introduced with Commission Implementing Decision 2015/789/EU to protect the EU from further introductions from these origins.

For more information see also the EU Commission infographic.

EUROPHYT Annual Report 2014 – Plant health interceptions in EU

EUROPHYT is the plant health interception, notification and rapid alert system for the EU Member States and Switzerland, managed by the European Commission.

This report presents key statistics on the 2014 notifications and provides analysis of trends in interceptions, based on annual figures from the period 2010-2014. In 2014, EUROPHYT received 6,662 notifications about consignments intercepted by the Member States and Switzerland due to non-conformity with EU requirements. The vast majority of which (96%) related to plants, plant products and objects from Third Countries (TCs).

The 2014 total was slightly down on the 2013 level (6,997).

Interceptions from Third Countries

In the case of goods from TC, approximately 37% of the interceptions were due to the presence of harmful organisms (HO), approximately 30% due to non-compliance of wood packaging material (WPM) with international phytosanitary requirements for the treatment of wood material (ISPM 15), and approximately 25% attributable to documentary problems.

For interceptions due to the presence of HOs, the main commodities intercepted were fruit and vegetables (73%), WPM (11%), cut flowers (7%) and planting material (4%). Almost two thirds of the HO interceptions related to nine TCs, each having more than 100 interceptions, namely, Ghana, Cambodia, India, China, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda and Kenya. Seven commodities accounted for 71% of the interceptions on fruit and vegetables: mango, peppers, gourds (Momordica spp., Luffa spp.), basil, eggplant, and citrus fruit.

The consignments were mainly infested with non-European fruit flies, white flies and thrips. 2014 saw a very significant increase in the interceptions of false codling moth and this HO is being considered for listing as a regulated pest. Commission emergency measures with regard to citrus black spot on imports of citrus fruit from South Africa remained in place for the 2014 season. In spite of efforts made by South Africa to implement these measures, and other additional measures, there was only a limited decrease in the level of interceptions in 2014 compared to previous years.

The main sources of interceptions for the presence of HOs in Wood Packaging Material were China, India and Vietnam. There was a consistent increase in the number of HO interceptions associated with WPM from TCs since 2011. Most of the HO interceptions were attributable to India and China, where HOs continued to be encountered in ISPM 15 marked consignments, raising wider plant health and export system concerns from these TCs. The main HOs were longhorn beetles and other wood and bark insects, and pinewood nematodes. As regards cut flowers, the main HOs intercepted were Gypsophila spp., Rosa spp., Solidago spp., orchids, Eryngium spp. and Chrysanthemum spp., infested mainly with Liriomyza spp., Spodoptera spp., Thrips spp. and Bemisia spp. Bemisia tabaci (non-European populations) was the most intercepted HO with planting material.

In response to the risks posed by certain interceptions, the Commission took a number of measures to address the high level of interceptions from a number of TCs. These measures have resulted in a drop in the number of interceptions of imports from Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, India and the Dominican Republic. For other TCs, such as Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda, there has been no improvement, or even deterioration despite measures taken.

Specific measures taken in relation to WPM from China have not yet resulted in a reduced level of interceptions. In the cases of China and India, there was a high number of interceptions due to the presence of HOs in WPM bearing the ISPM15 mark. This situation is a cause for concern as it means that the presence of the ISPM15 mark cannot always be taken as providing an assurance of compliance. Four HOs, considered not present or recorded from within the EU where intercepted for the first time in 2014: Tinthia cymbalistis, Psylliodes punctifrons, Acalolepta spp. and Anastrepha fraterculus. The second largest category of interceptions from TCs concerns non-compliance with the ISPM standard for the treatment of WPM (1,918 cases) originating mainly from Russia, USA, China, India, Turkey and Belarus. Such interceptions account for most of the interceptions from the Russian Federation (88%) and most of the interceptions from the USA and China (46% and 48% respectively).

Interceptions in intra-EU trade

As regards interceptions in trade between EU Member States, the number of intercepted consignments continued to decline. Interceptions concerned mainly planting material, followed by fruit and vegetables (including ware potatoes) and cut flowers. The overall decline reflects a reduction in interceptions of WPM and pinewood from Portugal and in ware potatoes from Poland demonstrating the effectiveness of improved control measures (the number of interceptions for the presence of ring rot reduced to one in 2014).

On the other hand, there were increased interceptions of commodities from NL most of which were of planting material with HOs, including Bemisia tabaci (intercepted by an EU protected zone for such), Phytophthora ramorum and a number of cases with Xylella fastidiosa (on ornamental coffee plants originating in Central America). Due to on-going efforts by MS the delays in making EUROPHYT notifications has decreased considerably since 2010, and appears to be stabilising at or around an EU average of 10 working days since 2012, although still above the two working days stipulated under EU legislation.

EU measures

New complimentary initiatives introduced by the Commission in 2014, including the publication on a non-EU trade Alert List, and the establishment of a Commission working group on Response to Emerging Risks from Imports (RERI), are helping the Commission, together with Member States, to timely identify where action needs to be taken to address risks from imports. In addition, the ongoing development of a HO outbreak database is anticipated to offer enhanced data management and plant health overview towards more integrated assessments of both import risk and outbreak management.

Notification of interceptions to the Commission

As regards notifications by Member States, 80% of all notifications were accounted for by nine MS and just three MS (UK, DE and NL) accounted for almost half of the total. Some MS (such as ES, IT, BE, GR, PT and RO) appear to have a low level of notifications relative to trade volumes.

(Source: DG Sante website)