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Brussels, 23 March 2004

Commission launching a co-operation initiative of current and future Member States at the future veterinary Border Inspection Posts

The European Commissioners for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne and for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen announced an initiative whereby veterinary experts of the current Member States will assist at the future veterinary Border Inspection Posts shortly before and for some weeks after accession.

"The extension of the internal market and of the EU border with third countries will impact strongly on the imports of live animals and products of animal origin. The new Member States will be in the front line of the EU for imports from third countries in all their new Border Inspection Posts. Staff will have to fully apply the acquis on behalf of the whole EU and thus help to ensure food safety and security of animal health within the EU. We want to do everything possible to contribute to a smooth accession and we strongly support the co-operation between current and new Member States. " Commissioner Byrne said.

"A lot has been achieved to prepare the new Border Inspection Posts for their functions. The New Member States have undertaken the legislative tasks, the necessary construction work is in most cases finalised and staff has been allocated and trained. Considerable investment has also been made by the EU under many of the Phare twinning programmes and the veterinary services have been supported by the Commission services, in particular by the TAIEX office. This is good example of solidarity in the enlarged EU" stated Commissioner Verheugen.

For the crucial first period of accession, a special effort will be made, and the responsible Commission services (the TAIEX office of DG Enlargement and DG SANCO), have taken the initiative to propose the assistance of veterinary staff of the current Member States at newly approved BIPS shortly before and for some weeks after accession.

This initiative is of course depending on the active support of the Member States. The Commission has received positive reactions from the Member States and has discussed this issue at the meeting of the Chief Veterinary Officers on 18 and 19 of March in Brussels.

The principle of establishing new Border Inspection Posts is laid down in the EU legislation. Only if construction of facilities and procedures are in compliance with the EU requirements at certain Border Inspection Posts can they be approved by a Commission Decision. By today, the Commission has identified some 20 Border Inspection Posts which are in the process of being listed now and there are possibly 15 or 20 additional posts that can be listed by accession.

The veterinarians who will be made available by the current Member States will be distributed to these Border Inspection Posts based upon their experience, geography of the recipient country and a number of other factors including language skills.

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