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Brussels, 17 December 2002

FMD: Commissioner David Byrne welcomes European Parliament recommendations

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed the report on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that was voted on today by the European Parliament. In response to the 2001 FMD crisis, the Parliament set up a temporary committee to assess EU policy, analyse the management and impact of the FMD crisis and make proposals for policy development.

Mr. Byrne said: "I congratulate the European Parliament on its diligent efforts and welcome its recommendations, many of which the Commission has already taken on board. In fact, the Commission is presenting a new Directive on the control of foot-and-mouth disease tomorrow. I have worked closely with the Temporary Committee and welcome their appraisal of the Commission's positive role in managing the crisis last year."

One key recommendation of the Parliament report is for the withdrawal of import exemptions for personal luggage and small quantities of animal products, a subject that has been resolved by a Commission Decision that enters into force on 1 January 2003. The Parliament also recommends improved identification and registration of sheep and goats, on which a draft law will be presented by the Commission tomorrow. A proposal further tightening the controls on trade in sheep is being discussed in the Council together with a proposal on improved animal health standards related to staging points (resting points for animals in transport). The issues of ensuring a more pivotal role for the EU as regards eradication strategies and co-ordination of contingency plans are both provided for in current legislation and in the FMD proposal to be presented by the Commission tomorrow.

Commission proposing amended FMD Directive

Tomorrow, the Commission will present an amended FMD Directive, setting out improved control measures in the event of an outbreak. The Directive outlines procedures for emergency vaccination and how to recover "free of FMD without vaccination" status, which is of crucial importance for trade. The control measures are supplemented with provisions to ensure a high level of preparation against outbreaks of disease. They add detailed rules for restrictions relating to placing products of animal origin on the market and also provide for "regionalisation", limiting restrictions to the particular regions of a Member State that are affected by an outbreak. The proposal does not change the current policyon the ban on prophylactic vaccination which is entirely inappropriate and impracticable in the EU. However, it makes provisions to move emergency vaccination more to the forefront of control measures.

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