Legal bases

National plant health legislation

The fundamental provisions in the area of plant health are contained in the Ordinance on the Protection of Plants against Particularly Dangerous Harmful Organisms (Plant Health Ordinance, PGesV, SR 916.20). Based on the Agriculture Act and the Forest Act, it was adopted by the Federal Council on 31 October 2018 and came into force on 1 January 2020. It superseded the Plant Protection Ordinance of 27 October 2010. It aims to strengthen the protection of plants against particularly harmful pests through stricter requirements and increased preventive measures.

Technical provisions and lists of regulated pests and goods are included in the interdepartmental (EAER and DETEC) Ordinance on the Plant Health Ordinance (PGesV-WBF-UVEK, SR 916.201), which came into force on 1 January 2020.

Emergency phytosanitary measures and temporary provisions are contained in the two Official Ordinances issued by the FOAG (VpM-BLW, SR 916.202.1) and the FOEN (VpM-BAFU, SR 916.202.2).

The Ordinances are supplemented by FOAG and FOEN Guidelines, which explain and elaborate on the legal provisions, thus serving as enforcement aids.

Within the framework of the bilateral agricultural agreement between Switzerland and the European Union (EU), the equivalence of phytosanitary regulations must be maintained, as this is the only way to ensure the free movement of goods with the EU. Consequently, Swiss phytosanitary legislation contains provisions equivalent to those of EU legislation (see below).

International plant health legislation

Plant health is regulated not only at a national level but also at an international level. More than 180 countries worldwide (including Switzerland) have signed the so-called International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). One of the main objectives of this international treaty for the protection of plants against pests and pathogens is to harmonize the import regulations and quarantine provisions of the various countries by setting standards (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, ISPM). Countries such as Switzerland, which have signed the IPPC, have to follow these standards when issuing national regulations and implementing them.

At European and Mediterranean level, more than 50 countries have joined together in the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO). Switzerland is also a member of the EPPO. The member states work together to develop international strategies against the introduction and spread of plant diseases and pests and to promote safe and effective control methods. This international organization develops standards in the areas of plant protection products, phytosanitary measures and diagnostics. EPPO standards are recommendations addressed to the national plant protection services of EPPO member countries.

At the end of 2016, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU published the new Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 "on protective measures against pests of plants", which has been in force since 14 December 2019. It is the result of several years of revision and modernization of the European plant health legislation and replaced Directive 2000/29/EC. The European Plant Health Regulation is supplemented by numerous delegated regulations and implementing regulations of the European Commission. For example, the lists of regulated pests and goods are contained in the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072.

Additional information

Last modification 19.09.2023

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