The EU current seed trade legislation... based on three pillars 

To be marketed at the European or national levels, a seed variety must be first registered in the official catalogs of cultivated species and plants.

There are two common European catalogs - based on the several national catalogs - in which are included a restricted set of field crops, vegetable and fruit varieties allowed to be marketed in the European Union.

Meaning that varieties of plants that are not registered on these catalogs, cannot be legally sold or exchanged in the EU.

To be registered, a variety of plant must meet several criteria:


/ different than the varieties already registered in the catalog;

2. Being UNIFORM

/ giving identical individuals from one crop to another ;

3. Being STABLE

/ able to conserve its characteristics over successive generations.

Three criteria that varieties designed for industrial agriculture are much more likely to meet...

These requirements are mandatory and harmonized at the European level by the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) on the basis of global guidelines (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants or UPOV).

Regarding the registration of field plants (cereals), a seed variety must also be tested as having an agronomic, technological and environmental value (Value for Cultivation and Use or VCU) superior to the most commonly used varieties.

Certification of seed lots and other plant reproductive material (PRM) is also required before it can be legally sold. This procedure entails verification of their identity, health and quality  (e.g. in terms of purity, disease resistance or germination capacity).

Seeds are categorized as Pre-basic, Basic, Certified.

This procedure is generally carried out by Member States' official bodies

To be legally sold, seeds must eventually comply with labelling and packaging requirements.

Member States' specificities

Two Member States already adopted diferent legal framework, regarding the marketing of seeds to non profesional users: Denmark and France.

Their experiences can serve as models to be followed, while proposing improved versions, in the framework of the upcoming reform of the European seed trade legislation, planned for the end of 2022.

To go further...

  • Directive 2010/60/EU - derogations for marketing fodder plant seed mixtures for use in preservation of the environment.
  • Commission Regulation 637/2009/EC of 22 July 2009 establishing implementing rules as to the suitability of the denominations of varieties of agricultural plant species and vegetable species.
  • Directive 2009/145/EC- derogations for accepting vegetable landraces and varieties traditionally grown in certain regions, threatened by genetic erosion and varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial production but developed growing under particular conditions; marketing of their seed.
  • Council Directive 2008/72/EC on the marketing of vegetable propagating and planting material other than seed.
  • Directive 2008/90/EC - marketing of fruit propagating material and fruit plants for fruit production.
  • Directive 2008/72/EC - marketing of material for the propagation of the vine.
  • Directive 2008/62/EC - derogations for agricultural landraces and varieties naturally adapted to local conditions, threatened by genetic erosion; marketing their seed and seed potatoes.
  • Commission Directive 2003/91/EC: Rules on minimum characteristics and minim conditions for examining certain vegetable species.
  • Commission Directive 2003/90/EC: Rules on minimum characteristics and minimum conditions for examining certain varieties of agricultural plant species.
  • Directive 2002/57/EC - marketing of seed of oil and fibre plants.
  • Directive 2002/56/EC - marketing of seed potatoes.
  • Council Directive 2002/55/EC on the marketing of vegetable seed.
  • Directive 2002/55/EC - marketing of vegetable seed.
  • Directive 2002/54/EC - marketing of beet seed.
  • Council Directive 2002/53/EC on the common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species.
  • Directive 2002/53/EC - common catalogue of agricultural plant species
  • Directive 1999/105/EC - marketing of forest reproductive material.
  • Directive 1998/56/EC - marketing of propagating material of ornamental plants
  • Directive 1992/33/EEC - marketing of vegetable material, other than seed.
  • Directive 1966/402/EEC - marketing of cereal seed
  • Directive 1966/401/EEC - marketing of fodder plant seed