Under the terms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, there is a clear difference between the definitions for trade and importation.
In relation to live animals:
- intra-Union trade or " trade" refers solely to the movement of animals between EU Member States.
- Importation, or "imports" refers solely to the introduction of animals into the Member States from third Countries outside the European Union.
Everyday, many consignments of live animals are traded or imported in the European Union. In order that all such consignments can be moved safely avoiding the transmission of diseases to either the public or other animals, the EU has laid down a wide range of animal health requirements.
The general animal health requirements that are applicable to both imports and intra-Union trade are laid down in specific Council Directives.
In regard to
intra-Union trade, the conditions
for trade are harmonised between the Member
States and all live animals must travel with a
health certificate validated by an official
veterinarian specifying that the animals fulfil
the basic animal health requirements as set out
in the relevant Council Directives. Further
random checks on the animals may also be
carried out at the final destination.
In addition to the general health requirements, in the event of a serious exotic disease outbreak within the Member States, specific requirements for trade in certain live animals may also be laid down in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
For imports, additional animal health requirements are set out in specific Commission Decisions. These lay down health certificates which must accompany all animal imports. In general these certificates must be signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the exporting third country guaranteeing that the conditions for import into the EU have been met. On arrival in the EU, the animals and the accompanying certificates must be verified and checked by EU official veterinarians at a designated Border Inspection Post (BIP). Further checks on the animals may also be carried out at the final destination.
(More details on the requirements for intra-Union trade and imports for live animals can be found under the menu above.)