The European Commission is actively involved in the work of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and organises the input from EU Member States.
Common EU positions
The Commission is responsible for coordinating the position of the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU) on issues discussed at the OIE and ensures that the EU Member States speak with one voice at the OIE.
In the areas of animal health, animal welfare and animal production food safety covered by the OIE, the Commission shares the competence with the Member States on the basis of the level of harmonisation of the relevant EU legislation. The Commission and the EU Member States elaborate common EU comment and position papers on issues discussed in the OIE.
Relations between the Commission and the OIE
The OIE is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide. It was established in 1924 and currently has 178 member countries. All 28 EU Member States are members of the OIE. The European Commission has formal observer status at the OIE, which was established by an exchange of letters in 2004 (2004/C 215/03 - 2004/C 215/04) . In 2011, the Commission and the OIE concluded a Memorandum of Understanding concerning their general relations (2011/C 241/1).
The EU, via the European Commission and individual Member States, is a major contributor to the OIE World Animal Health and Welfare Fund (WAHWF). The Commission is part of the WAHWF Advisory Committee and regularly supports OIE Global Conferences and Regional capacity building seminars, as well as projects and activities in Europe and elsewhere to improve the animal health and animal welfare situation, particularly in neighbouring countries and regions. Recent examples include the Mediterranean Animal Health network (REMESA), the OIE Regional Platform on animal welfare for Europe, the PAN-SPSO project in Africa, the Better Training for Safer Food project in Africa and the Highly Pathogenic Emerging Diseases project in Asia.
The OIE, in a joint initiative with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is responsible for the Global Framework for the progressive control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). In the GF-TADs for Europe Regional Steering Committee, the current President is Bernard Van Goethem, the Commission's Director for Veterinary and International Affairs and OIE Contact Point. The Commission also takes part in the annual Global Steering Committee meetings of the GF-TADs.
Owing to their good relations and often shared goals, the Commission and the OIE on the occasion of World Veterinary Year 2011 joined forces for the communication campaign "vets in your daily life" to highlight the diverse work of veterinarians and their important role for society, which included stands at major agriculture fairs, a photographic competition and a set of short videos. Since then, the European Commission and the OIE have shared stands at the annual International Green Week in Berlin and the Salon International de l'Agriculture in Paris. It is hoped to expand this cooperation in the future on other communication campaigns of mutual interest.
The OIE is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for international standards relating to animal health and zoonoses. The WTO Agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) considers that WTO members applying the OIE Standards meet their obligations under this Agreement.
OIE's primary objective is to protect the health of animals and to ensure a safe and fair trade in animals and animal products worldwide, by ensuring transparency in the global animal disease situation and by publishing health standards for international trade. It also sets guidelines for animal welfare although this mandate does not fall under the WTO SPS agreement.
The OIE World Assembly of Delegates adopts standards, guidelines and recommendations that are prepared by elected Specialist Commissions and by Working Groups bringing together internationally renowned scientists and experts from around the world. The European Commission contributes to the standard setting work of the OIE.