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Intra-Union Trade in Ovine and Caprine Animals

The intra-Union trade rules for ovine animals solely govern the movement of ovine animals between EU Member States.

Requirements before and during dispatch:

The animal health requirements for intra-Union trade of ovine and caprine animals are laid down in Council Directive 91/68/EEC of 28 January 1991. This Directive, which has been amended several times, harmonises the rules for intra-Union trade for sheep and goats and establishes the animal health guarantees needed for the trade of these animals between Member States but it does not apply to movements within an individual Member State.

  • The objective of this harmonisation is to make sure that the same requirements are applied for trade between all the Member States thereby ensuring the safe and free circulation of the animals in the EU territory.

  • The Directive lays down precise rules (e.g. prohibition of contact with other animals during the travel, cleaning and disinfection of means of transport, etc.) to be respected during the movement of ovine and caprine animals from the holding of origin to the final destination (another holding or a slaughterhouse) to try to avoid any possible spread of serious disease in the EU. These movements may involve the use of assembly centres.

  • In addition there are rules regarding the health status in relation to animal diseases (e.g. brucellosis) and provisions for tests to detect the presence of disease to be carried out by official veterinarians. A farm, a region of a Member State or the whole of a Member State may even be declared free from a certain disease to facilitate trade. Commission Decision 93/52/EEC of 21 December 1992 lists the Member States and regions thereof which are recognised as officially free of brucellosis (B. melitensis) in accordance with Directive 91/68/EEC.

  • Traceability is a key component of animal health control. Hence animals must be appropriately identified to ensure that when animals are presented for dispatch to another Member State, they can be subsequently accounted for on arrival at the place of destination.

  • The Directive provides also for a harmonised veterinary health certificate in which, prior to dispatch, an official veterinarian attests that the animals fulfil all the requirements for intra-Union trade. This accompanies the animal and the movement must be recorded in TRACES. If assembly centres are involved, additional veterinary certification is required.

NOTE: Following the FMD epidemic in 2001 where the movement of sheep contributed to a large extent to the spread of disease between Member States, Council Directive 2003/50/EC of 11 June 2003 amends Directive 91/68/EEC to reinforce the controls on movements of ovine and caprine animals between the Member States. Although the Directive gives some provision for derogation in some circumstances, the new requirements may be summarised as follows:

  • A 30-day minimum period of residence on a single holding of origin immediately prior to dispatch for all sheep and goats destined for intra-Union trade (21 days for animals moved for slaughter only);
  • A minimum 21-day standstill period shall apply (i.e. no ovine or caprine animals can be introduced to the holding of origin) prior to sheep and goats leaving the holding for intra-Union trade. The standstill period is increased to at least 30 days following the introduction of biungulate animals imported from a third country;
  • Animal shall be consigned directly to the destination in another Member State, but may, where necessary, transit through a single assembly centre (or approved dealers premises in the case of ovine and caprine animals being moved for slaughter) in the Member State of origin.

At the destination

Because there are no border controls for movements between the Member States, non-discriminatory spot checks are carried out at the point of origin and at the destination according to Council Directive 90/425/EEC , as last amended, to ensure that consignments are in compliance with the guarantees provided by the health certificate.

The TRACES tracking system provides an important tool to ensure compliance because it allows the receiving Member State to verify that the consignment arriving at the destination corresponds to that specified in the original accompanying veterinary certificate from the Member State of origin.