Increasing international trade volumes bring about the risk of transporting pests and diseases together with the merchandise. To protect itself from their economic and ecological impact, the member states of the European Union have agreed on union-wide phytosanitary standards and requirements.
In Germany, different institutions share the work. The Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry focuses on issues of plant health (quarantine and quality standards), whereas the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety assumes the tasks of risk management and coordinates the process of monitoring for food, animal feed and commodities like tobacco products, cosmetics and other items which either come into contact with humans directly or with food for human consumption.
Importers in Germany who wish to bring plants or products made of plants into the Single European Market or circulate them within the Single European Market have to register with the responsible authorities in their Federal State. EU-directives determine for which items this obligation applies. A list of plants, plant products and other objects which must be subject to a plant health inspection can be found in Annexes V, part A and B of directive 2000/29/EC. The directive is available online from the Eur-Lex, the database of legal documents of the European Commission.