French Interprofessional Organisation|for Seeds and Plants

EU seed marketing legislation

To be marketed freely within the EU, seeds and plant propagating/reproductive material must comply with EU norms and rules.

In accordance with Council Directives (EC) No. 2002/53 and No. 2002/55 and Commission Implementing Directive 2014/97/EU, there are catalogues and lists for certain agricultural, vegetable, and fruit species in each of the EU’s Member States. These national catalogues/lists, taken together, are the basis for the EU catalogues/lists of varieties that can be marketed across the EU. Also included are varieties registered in Switzerland and Norway.

Seed marketing Directives define the quality standards that must be met in the field for seed production of agricultural plant species and seed lots if the seeds are to be marketed in the EU (see below). The requirements that must be met include the following:

  • officially recording the identity of seed/plant suppliers and producers (in the case of certain directives),
  • labelling and packaging rules,
  • identifying the plant species,
  • identifying the official plant variety denomination, if required,
  • communicating species, analytical and varietal purities, as well as germination for seed,
  • following specific plant health rules; Regulations governing plant health are part of an entirely different set of national and European legislation, and they are applicable in addition to the above directives.

When plant varieties are required to be registered on a national catalogue for an EU Member State, different categories of seeds can be produced and marketed:

  • “Commercial” seeds for agricultural plants (certain agricultural cash crop and forage species), “standard” seeds for vegetable species, and “EC quality” seeds for vegetable young plants. The latter is the minimum acceptable level of quality in the EU. For fruit species, the equivalent to the “standard” level of quality is “CAC quality” (Conformitas Agraria Communitatis).
  • There are also, of course, “certified” seed and propagating material (those produced in accordance with certification standards). The “certified” level of quality is associated with a stricter set of standards, and complying with certification may be mandatory or optional for seed/propagating material to be marketed, depending on the species.

For more information, visit the European Commission website

Click on the links below to access the Directives:

Council Directive 2002/53/EC of 13 June 2002 on the common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species

Council Directive 66/401/EEC of 14 June 1966 on the marketing of fodder plant seed

Council Directive 66/402/EEC of 14 June 1966 on the marketing of cereal seed

Council Directive 2002/56/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of seed potatoes

Council Directive 2002/54/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of beet seed

Council Directive 2002/57/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of seed of oil and fibre plants

Council Directive 2002/55/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of vegetable seed

Council Directive 2008/72/EC of 15 July 2008 on the marketing of vegetable propagating and planting material, other than seed

• Council Directive 98/56/EC of 20 July 1998 on the marketing of propagating material of ornamental plants

• Council Directive 2008/90/EC of 29 September 2008 on the marketing of fruit plant propagating material and fruit plants intended for fruit production

• Commission Directive 2008/62/EC of 20 June 2008 providing for certain derogations for acceptance of agricultural landraces and varieties which are naturally adapted to the local and regional conditions and threatened by genetic erosion and for marketing of seed and seed potatoes of those landraces and varieties

• Commission Directive 2009/145/EC of 26 November 2009 providing for certain derogations, for acceptance of vegetable landraces and varieties which have been traditionally grown in particular localities and regions and are threatened by genetic erosion and of vegetable varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production but developed for growing under particular conditions and for marketing of seed of those landraces and varieties

• Commission Directive 2010/60/EU of 30 August 2010 providing for certain derogations for marketing of fodder plant seed mixtures intended for use in the preservation of the natural environment