Both Commissioners jointly described the ban as disproportionate and unjustified and called for its immediate lifting. The trade in these live animals from the EU has in no way endangered the health of citizens of the Russian Federation and these restrictions are therefore not based upon scientific fact, necessity or proportionality in any way.
The European Commission considers that this import ban is not in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and with Russia's formal commitments on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) matters taken during the negotiations on Russia's WTO accession.
As a result, the European Commission considers that Russia is sending a very negative signal to its international trade partners on its seriousness towards the WTO - given its pending accession to the international trade body.
Russia's accession to the WTO was endorsed last December and will be effective following ratification by the Russian parliament and not later than in August 2012. Commissioners De Gucht and Dalli have both written to Russia outlining the EU's major concerns and calling on Russia to refrain from introducing this disproportionate measure.
The Commission will continue to monitor the situation and will use all opportunities to ensure Russia lifts this unjustified ban. The ban on live animals, which exempts animals for breeding purposes, will particularly affect certain EU Member States to which exports to Russia represent an important part of their exports (especially of live pigs). The Russian authorities justify their ban, among other reasons, by the new Schmallenberg virus and Bluetongue situation. This is not relevant as pigs are not affected by these diseases. The total EU exports of live animals (pig, cattle, sheep, and goats) to Russia amounted to € 188 million in 2011, of which € 75 million are affected by the ban entering into force today.