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Brussels, 3 May 2001

BSE: Byrne welcomes EP adoption of legislation setting out a comprehensive framework for combating BSE

Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed today the European Parliament's approval of the Commission's proposal for a comprehensive regulation on the prevention, control and eradication of Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE). The EP position, adopted by the Plenary today, frees the way for the final adoption of this draft Regulation by the Council of Ministers, and for its entry into force on July 1 this year. The proposed legislation will put the measures taken by the Commission over the past ten years to protect human and animal health from the risk of BSE on a solid legal basis. It is the first major veterinary proposal on public health to be adopted under the co-decision procedure between the Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. It brings all existing BSE measures as adopted over the years through more than sixty Commission Decisions into a single, comprehensive framework, consolidating and updating them in view of scientific advice and international standards. In addition it introduces a number of new instruments to manage the risk of BSE and other similar diseases such as scrapie in all animal species and relevant products.

"I am extremely satisfied with the parliamentary outcome. This standard setting safety legislation can now rapidly come into force", Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said today. "The European Commission has been forced to work with safeguard measures for far too long. This regulation puts protective measures against BSE and other such types of diseases on the proper legal and institutional footing. It gives us the instruments we need for comprehensive risk management protecting both animal and human health. And it brings coherence between the rules inside the EU and those applicable to our trade with third countries - both imports and exports".

The draft Regulation takes account of the opinions of the Scientific Committees advising the European Commission and on the international standards set out in the "Code On BSE" of the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The new elements include in particular:

  • the procedure and criteria for classification of countries according to their BSE status based on the criteria of international standards;

  • fully harmonized measures for the eradication of BSE in cattle, sheep and goats, creation of the legal base for eradication of scrapie or any other TSE currently subject to national legislation;

  • rules for export of bovine animals and products derived therefrom similar to those that currently apply internally;*an extension of BSE related controls to bovine animals and products derived therefrom in view of the BSE status;

  • obligations on Member States to set up contingency plans for eradication and control of TSEs.

The proposal for a TSE Regulation was adopted by the Commission in November 1998 and is based on Article 152(4b) of the Treaty on the protection of public health. The European Parliament adopted its opinion in first reading on 17 May 2000. A Common Position, incorporating all key amendments of the European Parliament was unanimously agreed by the Council in February 2001.

The Regulation, once signed by the European Parliament and Council, will apply as of 1 July 2001. The majority of Commission Decisions on BSE will eventually be incorporated in the Regulation. All implementing decisions, such as for example the classification of countries according to risk level, will be adopted by the Commission after consultation of the Standing Veterinary Committee.

Current legislation on BSE has so far been based on safeguard clauses for emergency measures in directives on animal and public health, for which the Council has delegated its decision making power to the Commission after consultation of the Standing Veterinary Committee. The Commission has taken more than sixty such Decisions since 1989.

A list of Commission Decisions taken on BSE until to date is available on the internet at:

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