Community scheme for fertilisers

This new scheme defines, in particular, the provisions relating to the placing of fertilisers on the market, i.e. the conditions for designating “EC fertilisers”, as well as the provisions regarding their labelling and packaging.

The European Union is thus simplifying Community legislation on the harmonisation of Member States’ legislation in the field of fertilisers by bringing all the existing provisions in this field under the one instrument. The objective is to ensure the free movement of these products within the European Union.

EU fertilisers

The objective is to ensure the free movement of fertilisers within the European Union (EU).

Fertilisers are made up of one or more plant nutrients (or fertilising elements). The Regulation only covers mineral fertilisers.

All types of fertiliser which comply with this regulation are designated “EC fertilisers” and are subject to its provisions. They are listed in Annex I of the Regulation. This Annex is not final and may therefore be extended to other types of fertilisers. In order to be listed in the Annex, any manufacturer may make an application by presenting a technical file concerning the characteristics of a fertiliser . The Commission, assisted by a Committee, accepts or rejects the proposal.

If a fertiliser is marked as an “EC fertiliser”, it may circulate freely within the Community, and Member States shall not hinder its placing on the market. However, a Member State may make use of a safeguard clause if it considers that the fertiliser represents a danger for human or animal health or a risk to the environment. The fertiliser is then temporarily withdrawn from the market until a study is carried out at Community level.

Legal requirements

A type of fertiliser shall only be designated as a “EC fertiliser” if:

  • it has no adverse effect on the health of humans, plants or the environment under normal conditions of use;
  • it is effective
  • relevant sampling and analysis methods are being provided.

Annex I of the Regulation also establishes minimum nutrient content required for each type of fertiliser (nitrogen content, phosphorus content, etc.).

The Regulation lays down a certain number of compulsory statements which must appear on the packaging and labels of fertilisers. In particular, these include the marking “EC fertiliser”, details relating to the description of nutrients or micro-nutrients, information about the manufacturer and, if applicable, details of blends. Some optional information is also recommended, such as specific directions for the use, storage and handling of the fertiliser.

The Regulation also aims at harmonising rules on labelling and packaging in the Community. These concern, inter alia, the marking of nutrient content. Quantities of substances may be indicated in several ways. For example, phosphate content may be indicated in elemental form or in oxide form.

Provisions for specific types of fertilisers

The regulation sets out detailed technical provisions regarding the scope, declaration, identification and packaging of four types of fertiliser:

  • main inorganic nutrient fertilisers: these are the main fertilising elements supplied in substantial quantities for plant growth, i.e. nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium;
  • secondary inorganic nutrient fertilisers: these are calcium, magnesium, sodium and sulphur;
  • inorganic micro-nutrient fertilisers: these contain elements required in small quantities such as boron, cobalt, copper and iron;
  • ammonium nitrate fertilisers of high nitrogen content: given the dangerous nature of this type of fertiliser, the Regulation lays down additional measures such as a detonability test described in Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003.


Member States may carry out official controls to verify compliance of fertilisers with the provisions of the Regulation. These control measures are to be carried out by designated laboratories in each Member State in accordance with a uniform procedure set out in the Annexes to the Regulation.

For inspection purposes, manufacturers must keep records of the origin of EC fertilisers for as long as they are being supplied to the market.

Member States determine the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of the Regulation.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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