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The EU Member State’s experts endorsed – on 22 February – in the context of a Standing Committee a European Commission’s proposal to prolong the emergency measures with specific import requirements for citrus fruits from Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Uruguay, and strengthened the import requirements for citrus fruits originating in Brazil, to prevent the introduction into and the spread within the European Union of citrus black spot (CBS). This measure sets out specific growing and inspection requirements for citrus fruits originating in those countries that had recurrent interceptions of CBS at the entry into the EU, with the aim to ensure that the fruits arriving to the EU are free from this disease.

The Decision on the prolongation and reinforcement of this emergency measure will be formally adopted by the European Commission in the coming weeks.

For more information on emergency measures on import of plants and plant products, see SANTE’s webpage.

EFSA’s plant health experts have reviewed a study that suggests the pathogen which causes citrus black spot disease (CBS) is present in Europe. Phyllosticta citricarpa is listed as a quarantine plant pest in the EU and has never before been identified in the territory.

The authors of the paper reported finding the fungal pathogen in domestic gardens in Portugal, Malta and Italy but said there was no evidence of the disease at any of the sites.

Although the authors applied advanced molecular techniques for identifying fungal species, EFSA’s Panel on Plant Health noted a number of limitations in the surveillance part of the study:

  • It is not clear from the methodology presented how the sample locations and sites were chosen or how samples were collected.
  • The sampling procedure was inconsistent and not statistically based.
  • No explanation is given for how the CBS disease surveys were conducted. Without properly constituted disease surveys, there is little support for the conclusion that P. citricarpa did not lead to disease.

Surveys conducted by national plant protection organisations following publication of the paper have not confirmed its findings. Sampling will continue in the following seasons.