The WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures was introduced in 1995. It sets minimum standardsconcerning food safety, animal health and plant health. In this year, the SPS is being revised.

What is the SPS-Agreement?

The SPS lays down certain basic rules for all WTO member states. The aim is to protect people, animals and plants from diseases or risks from food. The number of SPS measures taken by individual countries has risen sharply in recent years. This presents companies with major challenges.

The contents of the Convention do not apply directly in the respective member states – they have to be implemented by them in national law. Thus, individual states may well introduce their own measures based on the Convention. To ensure that SPS measures neither have a discriminatory effect nor are arbitrary, WTO members are obliged to carry out risk analyses.


Protection for humans, animals and plants

The EU implements the SPS Agreement through the following regulations:

Among other things, the SPS Agreement contains regulations on the use of plant protection products. (Image source: Pixabay)

  • Regulations to protect human health ensure that products entering the EU from third countries are safe. For example, cosmetics must not contain certain ingredients or food must not contain residues of pesticides.
  • The regulations for the protection of animals place species threatened with extinction under protection, set standards for animal transport and prevent the introduction of animal diseases.
  • The regulations for the protection of the plants regulate, among other things, which plant protection products are approved and which controls are to be carried out.

Current development

In June 2020, the fifth review of the SPS-Agreement was adopted. Consultation rounds were held in November 2022 and February 2023 in which the Corona pandemic was also addressed. In November 2023, at the last meeting of the SPS Committee, the final report should be available.

The current text of the SPS Agreement can be found here. Other useful links with background information can be found on the website of the of the GTAI.


Source: GTAI