On 27 February 2023, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a regulation to introduce voluntary digital labelling for EU fertilising products.

This new measure, which would amend Regulation (EU) 2019/1009, would ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment, as well as the smooth functioning of the EU internal market.

In summary, the proposal aims to achieve two specific objectives: to improve the readability of labels and to facilitate their handling by economic operators. The decision to use digital labels on EU fertilising products would be left to the manufacturers, importers or distributors of these products.

The proposed regulation suggests that suppliers be permitted to provide all labelling elements required by Annex III to Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 exclusively in digital format in two situations: when EU fertilising products are sold without packaging or when they are sold to economic operators that are not the end users.

The proposal has been sent to the European Parliament and the Council, and, once published, the new rules will enter into force two and a half years after their adoption.

In the EU, digital labelling is in fact already used for some products containing chemicals (e.g. batteries), and standards for digital labelling are being studied for others, such as detergents, cosmetics and chemicals. Suppliers of fertilising products that meet EU health, safety and environmental standards (with CE marking) will be able to provide more information on the digital label. This will better inform users, leading to a more efficient use of fertilising products.

At the same time, labelling obligations for suppliers will be simplified and costs reduced, which the Commission estimates at EUR 57,000 per year for a large company and EUR 4,500 for a small or medium-sized enterprise. Digital labelling will be voluntary, which means that suppliers and retailers will be able to choose how to communicate the labelling information: in a physical format, a digital format or a combination of the two. For products sold in packages to farmers and other fertiliser consumers, the most important information, such as safety for human health and the environment, will continue to be provided on a physical label in addition to the digital label.

More information is available here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52023PC0098