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Personal consignments containing meat, milk or their products and brought into the EU continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the EU. It is known, for example, that dangerous pathogens that cause animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Classical swine fever can reside in meat, milk or their products. Hence pathogens could be introduced into the EU if personal consignments containing meat, milk or their products are sent by post or carried in the baggage of travellers arriving from countries outside the EU, where such pathogens may be circulating.

A video in 35 languages has been developed. It is intended to be screened at EU points of entry and in particular in airports, as well as during flights coming from outside the EU. All 35 language versions of the video can be found on the following page

Background

Following the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic within the EU, the Commission considered that the mechanisms in place to prevent the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products should be strengthened across the EU. In the first instance, this was done by temporarily removing exemptions that had previously allowed personal consignments of meat, milk or their products to be carried into the Community without veterinary certification. These safeguard rules were laid down in Commission Decision 2002/995/EC, and were accompanied by a publicity campaign to make people aware of the new requirements. Press releases detailing the aim of these temporary rules were also produced:

  • Tighter rules on personal imports of meat and milk into the EU, 20 September 2002 (IP/02/1344)
  • Stopping animal disease at the border: tighter rules on personal imports of meat and milk into the EU, 19 December 2002 (IP/02/1927)

In view of the continuing risk of serious animal diseases being introduced into the Community via the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products, Commission Decision 2002/995/EC was updated and replaced with more permanent measures. These have been laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 745/2004. The Regulation came into force on 1 May 2004, and:

  • permanently prohibits all personal consignments of meat, meat products, milk and milk products from entering the EU, including packages sent to private persons, unless specifically authorised and certified as being eligible for EU entry.
  • continues the existing awareness campaign to alert the travelling public to the rules at EU entry points, and place an increased onus on passenger transport operators to inform passengers prior to entry into the EU.
  • encourages MS to put in place mechanisms to search large quantities of luggage.
  • sets down specific provisions that allow MS to impose penalties on those travellers that are found to be breaking the rules.

Travellers are, however, allowed to bring in limited quantities of infant or specialist food required for medical purposes from all third countries, providing that

  • such products do not require refrigeration before opening,
  • that they are packaged proprietary brand products for direct sale to the final consumer, and
  • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.

Personal consignments of meat, meat products, milk or milk products with a combined total weight that does not exceed 5 kg from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland also fall outside the scope of the Regulation. The import of any other personal consignments of meat and milk will only be permitted subject to declaration of the goods on arrival together with the necessary official veterinary documentation (i.e. the same as for commercial imports).

Current Rules - Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009

Since 1 May 2009, clearer EU rules on the introduction of personal consignments of animal products into the EU are laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009. This Regulation, which repeals Commission Regulation (EC) No 745/2004, intends to clearly explain to the general public the rules concerning the introduction of animal products into the European Union. Indeed, animal products brought into the EU by travellers or through the post, could pose a risk to the health of EU livestock by carrying with them certain animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease. The general public therefore plays an important role in ensuring biosecurity and keeping such diseases out of the EU.

  • Travellers are not in general allowed to bring in meat, milk or their products, unless they are coming with less than 10 kilograms of meat, milk or their products from Croatia, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland.
  • There also is an exemption for powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons, if weighing less than 2 kilograms and provided that:
    • such products do not require refrigeration before opening,
    • that they are packaged proprietary brand products for direct sale to the final consumer, and
    • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.
  • For fishery products (including fish and certain shellfish such as prawns, lobsters, dead mussels and dead oysters), travellers are allowed to bring in up to 20 kilograms or the weight of one fish if this is higher. However, there is no such weight restriction for travellers coming from the Faeroe Islands or Iceland.
  • For other animal products, such as honey, live oysters, live mussels and snails for example, travellers are allowed to bring in up to 2 kilograms.
  • These rules do not apply to animal products transported between the 27 Member States of the EU, or for animal products coming from Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland.

Enforcement and Publicity Campaigns

Enforcing the rules governing the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products, and ensuring that the public are made aware of their responsibilities are both vital components in preventing unauthorised meat, milk or their products from entering the EU. There are several provisions to enforce the rules and raise public awareness:

Enforcement

Provisions include:

  • the organisation of controls at EU entry points to detect the presence of illegal consignments of meat, milk or their products.
  • where necessary, the deployment of appropriate detection aids such as scanning equipment and detector dogs to screen large quantities of baggage.
  • the seizure and destruction of personal consignments that are found to be in breach of the rules.
  • mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for illegal consignments may be liable for costs or penalties.

A summary of the measures taken to enforce the rules on the introduction of personal consignments of animal products in Member States in 2005, 2006 and 2007, in accordance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 745/2004 can be found here

Publicity

A requirement for transport operators to inform passengers that they carry into the Community of the rules governing the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products. This includes provisions for transport operators to make use of existing means of passenger communication, such as leaflets and in-flight magazines to publicise the rules. The text to be conveyed can be found on the following page.

In 2002, the Commission first produced full size posters in 35 languages for display at EU entry points to ensure passengers are aware of rules before they enter customs points. The posters have been printed and distributed to all 27 Member States. The posters have been updated in 2013 and they are available for download (Version 1Version 2).

A specific awareness campaign "Diseases don't respect borders" also took place during the European Veterinary Week 2008 (10-16 November 2008) organised in partnership with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. During the Veterinary Week, there were actions in all major EU airports, ports and border crossings to ensure that the message was conveyed effectively to travellers by different means. In particular, posters in 34 languages were displayed, to ensure that passengers were aware of the new rules and the reasons behind them.

In addition, the EU Veterinary Week 2008 campaign raised awareness among travellers about preventing animal diseases from entering the EU via the introduction of domestic animals coming from non-EU countries by reminding them of the need to provide the correct certification. The posters can be found at the following page.

 
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