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Brussels, 15 April 2004

TRACES: Commission adopts new system to manage animal movements and prevent the spread of animal diseases

The European Commission has just introduced TRACES, a new IT system designed to improve the management of animal movements both from outside the EU and within the EU. TRACES will consolidate and simplify existing systems and create better tools for managing animal disease outbreaks. All those concerned by animal trade authorities and economic operators will benefit from this modern web-based system, the first EU-wide e-government application in the field of food safety.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said "The new TRACES database will facilitate tracking the 50 000 animals transported in the EU each day. This is a major innovation and will help in case of an outbreak of an animal disease like foot and mouth disease. The new database will reduce red tape for both economic operators and competent authorities. For example, a consignment of animals moving from Spain to Italy via France can be managed with TRACES using just one electronic form rather than the separate systems and paperwork that would previously have been involved."

The TRAde Control and Expert System (TRACES) will create a single central database to track the movement of animals and certain types of products both within the EU and from outside the EU. It will:

    Improve the amount and quality of information to trace animal movements

    Improve the exchange of information between national and EU authorities

Provide a system of electronic veterinary certificates enabling trade operators to enter the relevant information online

    Manage lists of establishments in non-EU countries that are authorised to export products of animal origin to the EU

    Manage rejected consignments at EU borders

    Make it possible to target controls on public and animal health and on animal welfare, including verifying that animal transport rules are fulfilled

    Centralise risk assessments of potential disease outbreaks

    Overcome language discrepancies, making information from other countries more accessible

    Integrate all users involved by creating a workflow for the exchange of documents between economic operators and competent authorities

In the event of a disease outbreak, it is very important to be able to trace the movement of all possibly affected animals so that measures can be taken quickly to stop the further spread of the disease. In the wake of outbreaks of classical swine fever in 1997 and foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, new impetus was given to efforts to improve the computerised systems for tracing animal movements.

TRACES will replace several previous systems (see Background below). Replacing these separate systems with the single TRACES system will avoid the duplication of data and make the tracing of animal movements both within and from outside the EU simpler and more efficient. The creation of a single database at a cost of 2.2 Mio € will also facilitate actions in the event of an outbreak of animal disease.

TRACES is designed to be used directly by economic operators under the control of the competent veterinary authorities, so relevant information can easily be shared with customs authorities.

The TRACES system is being introduced from 1 April 2004, although Member States that are not ready at this date can continue to use the old system (ANIMO) until 31 December 2004. Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Finland joined the system from the starting date of 1 April, while the other Member States will gradually join in the months following this date.

How does it work in practice?

Trade within the EU: for example, a consignment of cattle being sent from Spain to Italy via France. If registered in TRACES, the dealer can fill in all details of the consignment online, sending this electronic form to the relevant Spanish competent authority. The electronic form is controlled and if the animals comply with the relevant requirements, the form is validated. As soon as validation is given, TRACES sends the information to the competent authority at the destination, to the central competent authority in France and to all staging points, so that controls can be made en route and at the final destination. In case of a disease outbreak, it is easy to trace the consignment backwards and forwards.

Import of products from outside the EU: for example, a consignment of products arrives in Antwerp. If registered in TRACES, the agent at the Border Inspection Post (BIP) will be able to fill in part I of the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) describing the details of the consignment. After controlling the products, the veterinary authority at the BIP will give or refuse authorisation. If authorised, the CVED is sent to the competent authority at the destination. If the consignment is rejected, all BIPs within the EU will be informed via TRACES.


TRACES will replace several separate previous systems, notably ANIMO and SHIFT. ANIMO was introduced to trace the movements of live animals and exchange information between national and EU authorities. To improve the health security for the import of animals and products from outside the EU, an information system entitled SHIFT was developed. SHIFT in turn included two other systems; the LMS system for managing lists of establishments authorised for exports to the EU and the RCS system for managing rejected consignments at the EU borders. Replacing these separate systems with the single TRACES system will avoid the duplication of data and make the tracing of animal movements simpler and more efficient.

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