How are emergency authorizations granted?

Crop protection products are usually approved via the standard regulatory process. However, there can be exceptions – called ‘emergency authorizations’ – in exceptional situations.

A tractor in a field with a pile of potatoes.

How are emergency authorizations of plant protection products granted in the European Union? 

Sometimes, farmers face exceptional, emergency situations where they need a specific product to handle an imminent threat to their crops. If that product isn’t approved for use at the time, it may receive an emergency authorization. Let’s take a look at the process to grant emergency authorizations in the European Union (EU). 


First of all: what is an emergency authorization? 


An emergency authorization is a temporary authorization of a plant protection product that has not, or not yet, been approved for use. Emergency authorizations are only permitted in exceptional situations and according to specific conditions – meaning situations where farmers have no other reasonable alternative means capable of handling an imminent threat to their crops. Emergency authorizations are granted by individual EU countries. 

The legal basis for emergency authorizations is found under Article 53 of the EU’s Plant Protection Regulation


What does the EU’s Plant Protection Product Regulation say about emergency authorizations? 

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Authorization can last for a maximum of 120 days within one year  
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The plant protection product must be sold and used in a “limited and controlled way” – meaning it can only be used for very specific problems (narrow scope) 
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Authorization is only allowed if there are no other reasonable means available to handle the threat   
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The EU country must provide a thorough justification for its decision, including steps taken to ensure consumer safety  

Concerns around emergency authorizations 

You might have concerns around emergency authorizations and why they are needed. Some have wondered if they allow dangerous products to be used on EU soil.  


The process to grant an emergency authorization is rigorous. First, the application is most frequently made by specialist groups who possess expert knowledge of the local agronomic conditions, and who recognize when there are no other options available to protect their crops. In some cases, the product manufacturer might provide supportive information to ensure that the application is comprehensive and complies with the requirements of Article 53. Then, there are checks and balances throughout, at both national and EU levels, to ensure that the authorization is fully justified – and as part of this, EU countries have to prove that they have taken steps to guarantee that your food and the environment will be protected. The nature of these authorizations also means that the product is approved only temporarily and for a very specific and limited use.  


Emergency authorizations are a vital component of EU regulation which allows farmers to swiftly protect their crops against otherwise unavoidable losses in exceptional situations. This helps to secure the farmer’s livelihood, while also contributing to providing enough food for our growing world population.

3 min read