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Food Safety

Animal Health Law

The European Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases ("Animal Health Law") in March 2016. It has been applicable since 21 April 2021.

Overall, the single, comprehensive new animal health law supports the EU livestock sector in its quest towards competitiveness and safe and smooth EU market of animals and of their products, leading to growth and jobs in this important sector:

  • The huge number of legal acts are streamlined into a single law
  • Simpler and clearer rules enable authorities and those having to follow the rules to focus on key priorities: preventing and eradicating disease
  • Responsibilities are clarified for farmers, vets and others dealing with animals
  • The rules allow greater use of new technologies for animal health activities - surveillance of pathogens, electronic identification and registration of animals
  • Better early detection & control of animal diseases, including emerging diseases linked to climate change, will help to reduce the occurrence and effects of animal epidemics
  • It offers more flexibility to adjust rules to local circumstances, and to emerging issues such as climate and social change
  • It sets out a better legal basis for monitoring animal pathogens resistant to antimicrobial agents, supplementing existing rules and Regulations on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed

The animal health law was part of a package of measures proposed by the Commission in May 2013 to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. As such, it is closely linked to Regulation (EU) 2017/625 ("Official Controls Regulation"). The animal health law is also a key output of the Animal Health Strategy 2007-2013, "Prevention is better than cure".

Several delegated and implementing acts have been adopted by the Commission to make the new rules applicable. The Commission has duly consulted experts, Member States and other interested parties, EU stakeholders (e.g. in the Animal Health Advisory Committee) during the drafting of these delegated and implementing acts, in the spirit of better regulation principles.

List of animal diseases relevant for the Union intervention and categories of animal diseases and list of species and groups of species are laid down in Regulation (EU) 2018/1629 and Regulation (EU) 2018/1882

Member States and the Commission have agreed, in the framework of the PAFF Committee, on a set of transitional practical elements for the use of animal health certificates that should accompany animals and animal products during the transitional period between 21 April 2021 and October 2021, as provided for in Commission Implementing Regulations (EU) 2020/2235, 2020/2236 and 2021/403 and as amended by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/619. This provides for a transitional solution to avoid unnecessary potential trade disruptions with the Intra Union movements and entry into the Union of certain animals and their products. Practical indications as regards certification during the transitional period following the entry into application of the AHL are provided in the following Statement and Commission Working document SANTE/7104/2021.

On the new rules, a series of 5 seminars was provided to the competent authorities of Member States and of certain third countries under the Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) initiative between 19 January and 24 June 2021, as well as a conference on 21 April 2021, also  including numerous stakeholders. These were done as video (remote) events, 3 half-day for the seminars and 2 half-days for the conference. All of the training materials are available here. From September 2021 more BTSF trainings are foreseen in traditional format (classroom + practical exercises).

For further information, please contact SANTE-ANIMAL-HEALTH-LAW@ec.europa.eu.

General Q&As

Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases ("Animal Health Law") - April 2021