Albert Heijn supermarket citrus display restock

The European Commission is to put forward proposals to strengthen controls on citrus imports from non-EU countries.

The move follows growing calls from the Spanish sector for better protection against pests and diseases amid a surge in interceptions of citrus consignments carrying pathogens in the past year.

The Commission has drawn up two proposals: the first, on false codling moth, would require all third country orange imports from areas where the pest is present to be subjected to cold treatment, and for existing treatments and control measures to be reinforced.

The second, relating to citrus black spot, would require a strengthening of existing health and traceability controls in the country of origin and at the point of entry.

The proposals are due to be discussed by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed this week.

Welcoming the proposals, Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas tweeted: “Good news for the #citrus sector. At the request of #Spain, a step forward in improving the protection of our productions against pests from third countries. More health, traceability and control requirements”.

European producers, led by Spain, have ramped up the pressure on Brussels to address the threat of foreign pests in recent months.