With the start of the Southern Hemisphere season just weeks away, the new protocol has yet to receive final approval

Spanish citrus producers are calling for Brussels to speed up plans to impose stricter rules on orange imports from Sub-Saharan Africa as fears grow that the new measures will not be in place ahead of the start of the new Southern Hemisphere citrus campaign.

Earlier this year, EU Member States approved a draft resolution requiring all oranges from Africa and Israel to be subjected to cold treatment at a temperature of 0-1oC for a minimum of 16 days to prevent the entry of false codling moth.

With the consultation process between the EU and its WTO trade partners now concluded, the text of the new protocol is awaiting final approval before being published in the EU’s Official Journal.

But as importers gear up for the first arrivals of South African Navels in early May, Member States have yet to receive technical details of how the new rules will be applied.

Inmaculada Sanfeliu, president of Spain’s Citrus Management Committee and Intercitrus, has called for the draft regulation to be presented to Member States for approval “as soon as possible”.

Intercitrus claims the new measures represent “a major achievement” for EU orange producers adding that it will continue its fight for them to be extended to mandarins and grapefruit “because the phytosanitary risk is the same”.

However, representatives from the South African citrus industry said the proposed rule change will jeopardise the country’s orange exports to the EU.

Speaking to South African news service Business Live, Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, said: “Future shipments of South African oranges to the region are under severe threat in light of new legislation proposed by the European Commission with regard to the false codling moth, which will require the mandatory cold treatment of all oranges being exported to the EU.

“The association has raised its concerns over these unwarranted and unfeasible proposals, which could result in major job losses in the industry.