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Moscow, 2 September 2004

Russia-EU relations: Trade in animal products will continue after 1 October

A major loss in trade in animal products to Russia has been avoided by the introduction of uniform veterinary trade certificates, allowing EU exports of live animals and animal products to continue from 1 October without disruption. Russia blocked all such exports on 1 June but had lifted this ban until 1 October to allow discussions to take place. Russia will implement a set of uniform veterinary certificates to be used by all EU Member States exporting to Russia. These new certificates will be applicable as 1 October whilst the existing ones will phase out until the end of the year. Particular attention has been paid to certifying products originating in one Member State and processed in another. The certificates will be annually reviewed taking into account the development of the animal disease situation in the EU and new scientific data. In addition, Russia has accepted the principle of “regionalisation”, so that an animal disease outbreak in a part of a Member State will not block exports from the whole of that country nor from the rest of the EU.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: “I am pleased with the breakthrough we have made with Russia.  We have moved a long way beyond the trade disruption of June.  The way is now clear for uninterrupted trade in legitimate and safe food products from the EU to Russia.  Over euro 1 billion in annual exports have been saved. I look forward to seeing further co-operation on issues of common interest including fraud prevention and transit issues.” Cees Veerman, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality said: “This is a major achievement for the Dutch Presidency. I appreciate that an important trading partner like Russia has been so constructively discussing with us and has enabled us to find such a positive mutual understanding. I am also pleased about the very good co-operation between the EU Member States.”

The new Russian certificates introduce more transparency into this valuable trade. There will be winners, where markets have been opened or certification requirements have been made less onerous. There will also be cases where national authorities have to institute systems to meet the access requirements of the Russian market. Overall these are positive developments which introduce stability and provide a platform to make further progress.

The current phase of technical talks was concluded yesterday. To welcome this, Commissioner Byrne and Mr. Veerman, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture representing the EU Presidency, met today with Mr. Gordeyev, the Russian Minister of Agriculture.

While uniform certification is to be introduced for exports from all EU countries, each exporting Member State will continue to sign the veterinary certificates used for exports from its territory.


Within the EU internal market, trade in live animals and animal products flows easily. When there is an animal disease outbreak in one Member State, the EU acts immediately to limit the spread of the disease. The so-called principle of regionalisation is applied, stopping all exports from the affected region. Russia was concerned that products affected by a disease outbreak in one Member State could move freely within the internal market and be exported through another Member State. This meant that if there would be an outbreak of for example African Swine Fever on Sardinia, Russia could refuse to import pork from any EU country. Indeed this was the position in the past. Russia has now accepted the principle of regionalisation so that such trade blockages can be limited to the affected regions within the EU. This acceptance is on the basis that the EU has also agreed to set up a system involving a chain of official pre-export certification for products which pass through more than one Member State.

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