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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 14 March 2001

Export embargoes by Third Countries on foot-and-mouth disease

The need for vigilance by all concerned parties, including trading partners, on the consequences of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the UK and a department in France is fully recognized. However, the principle of proportionality must be respected when reacting to this situation. So far foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Europe are limited to only one country and one region. Moreover, these outbreaks have been shown to be linked and are not separate incidences. The EU has put in place extremely strict measures to contain the outbreak with a regional approach. This principle of regionalisation is widely recognized in international veterinary agreements and is supported by the International Office of Epizootics and applied by the EU vis-à-vis third countries.

Commenting on the measures applied by some third countries today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: " ... The very firm and decisive action taken to tackle the current outbreak has not received the recognition it deserves. Instead of taking reassurance from this firm action, third countries have responded in many cases with restrictions which are both excessive and unnecessary. The Commission is urgently establishing with the third countries concerned the basis and rationale for the restrictions adopted. We will, of course, be explaining the measures already in place which ensure that such restrictions are not necessary. I have already been in contact with the US Secretary for Agriculture regarding the measures imposed by the US. I was reassured by the Secretary that these measures will be reviewed urgently. We have agreed that our respective veterinary services should co-operate urgently on finding solutions. We closed with a commitment to remain in close contact until a solution is found."

The EU-decisions taken prohibit the dispatch of live animals and non-treated products of animal origin from the UK and the French Departments of Mayenne and Orne. For the rest of France there is a prohibition on the dispatch of live animals, semen and embryos. All measures applicable in the EU are applied equally to exports to third countries.

The European Commission has been additionally informed that certain third countries are taking action against exports of cereals from the UK and in some cases even from the EU as a whole. Morocco has officially communicated restrictions on imports of cereals from the UK. Unofficial indications suggest that Hungary, Slovakia and Tunisia appear to have taken some actions against imports of cereals. The nature of these restrictions is not yet clear.

Background:

- The International Office of Epizootics in Paris (OIE) has established a code with regard to foot-and-mouth disease and the measures which are necessary with regard to trade from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease and practicing a non-vaccination policy. Such measures are first of all based on the principle of regionalisation, i.e. should only cover areas which are affected by foot-and-mouth disease and subject to restrictions and secondly in no case require any restrictions with regard to the trade in cereals.

- In the EU the policy with regard to foot-and-mouth disease is based on non-vaccination and regionalisation in case of an outbreak. For the time being the measures with regard to the UK cover the totality of the country and the case of France are limited to the French departments of Mayenne and Orne. The EU has the interest more than any other country to control, eradicate and avoid the spread of foot-and-mouth disease to other parts of the EU in addition to avoiding the spread to third countries.

- Foot-and-mouth disease legislation in the EU does not impose any restrictions on trade in cereals except from areas affected or under restriction, which are subject to stringent movement controls. The Standing Veterinary Committee at its meeting yesterday 13 March has confirmed this policy in its statement following the meeting.

Released on 16/03/2001

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FOOD SAFETY | PUBLIC HEALTH | CONSUMER PROTECTION | DIRECTORATE GENERAL "HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION"

 
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