Concerns have been raised in Spain as a result of the country’s rising imports of citrus fruit from third countries. While arrivals of oranges fell in 2018 by 11% to 83,031 tons, lemon imports rocketed 78% to 71,835 tons, and receipts of small citrus soared 361% to 7,709 tons. In the framework of the Better Regulation Agenda, the EU Commission conducts economic and environmental impact assessments prior to any trade negotiation to identify possible problems and the best course of action.
The Commission applies strict sanitary and phytosanitary requirements to imports of citrus from third countries. Citrus fruits from South Africa are subject to the specific import requirements of Decision (EU) 2016/715. Products imported into the EU must meet the same quality requirements as products originating in the EU. Imported products are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls for which the national administrations are responsible. From the end of 2019 onwards, a common regime for official controls will be put in place to ensure a standardised and harmonised import control system.
Most EU trade agreements provide for safeguard measures in cases where imports of a specific product increase as to cause or threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic industry or disturbances in the sectors or markets of agricultural products. At this stage, the Commission has no evidence that third country imports caused injury or created disturbance in the EU citrus market, which would have justified applying safeguard measures. The Commission regularly monitors imports of citrus fruit from third countries to detect any possible market disturbance in the EU market and respond appropriately.