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Brussels, 9 November 2006

Member States back a series of veterinary and food safety decisions for after Enlargement

Commission proposals on a number of food safety and animal health issues linked to the forthcoming accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, have been backed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. Member State veterinary experts voted in favour of granting a list of food establishments transitional periods in which to finish upgrading to EU standards. Transitional measures for certain products of animal origin were also agreed. In addition, the Standing Committee approved a list of new Border Inspection Posts that will become operational from 1 January 2007, agreed to residue monitoring programmes submitted by Bulgaria and Romania, and supported necessary technical changes to the EU systems for the control animal movements (TRACES) and for the notification of animal diseases.

Transitional measures for Romanian food establishments

It was agreed at the Standing Committee meeting yesterday that certain meat, poultry meat, fish and dairy establishments in Romania should be allowed an extended period in which to upgrade to EU standards. The 387 establishments in question have already made progress in bringing their practices into line with EU food safety standards, but need more time to complete structural changes required under EU hygiene legislation. They have given reliable assurances that they can correct the remaining shortcomings, and will therefore be given a transitional period up to the end of 2009 to do so. During this time, the establishments in question will be allowed to continue selling their products on the Romanian market, but will not be allowed to export to other Member States. Products from these establishments will carry a specific label to prevent them from entering intra-Community trade.

Transitional measures for the Romanian dairy sector

Member States endorsed a separate Decision laying down transitional measures for Romanian milk processing establishments. In 2005, less than 50% of raw milk delivered to milk processing establishments in Romania was compliant with EU requirements. This means that even if certain milk processing establishments have been cleared to participate in intra-Community trade from 2007, much of the milk they are receiving is not eligible for export. Under the Decision agreed yesterday, establishments may continue to receive non-compliant milk until 30 June 2008, but will only be allowed to sell it on the domestic market. The produce from these establishments will carry a special identification mark. Only dairy establishments which can ensure the complete separation of compliant and non-compliant milk in the production process – from the point of collection right through to the final labelling and marketing stage – may participate in intra-Community trade. The Romanian authorities will be responsible for checking that these conditions are adhered to.

Transitional measures for products of animal origin

Transitional measures for products of animal origin produced in Bulgaria and Romania before 1 January 2007 were also endorsed by the Standing Committee this week. As these goods were produced and packaged before the date of Enlargement, they may not be in compliance with all EU veterinary rules. Therefore, they will only be allowed to be sold on the domestic markets. By the end of 2007, all stocks of these animal products should be used up or else removed from the market. By way of derogation, establishments which had already been authorised to export to EU Member States prior to the date of accession may continue to do so, subject to labelling and traceability rules. Pigmeat and pigmeat products will be still subject to the particular provisions agreed in October, due to the Classical Swine Fever situations in Romania and Bulgaria (see MEX/06/1004).

In another proposal which received a positive vote in the Committee, similar transitional measures are set out for animal semen, ova and embryos obtained before 1 January 2007. An 8 month transitional period will be granted in which these products can be sold and traded domestically.

New border inspection posts

The Standing Committee also voted in favour of a Decision to approve 16 new border inspection posts (BIPs) - 8 in Romania[1] and 8 in Bulgaria[2]. These new BIPs will start operating from 1 January 2007, controlling veterinary products entering the EU from third countries via the new borders in Romania and Bulgaria. In addition, 2 border inspection posts in Greece and 1 in Hungary will be cease to function after Bulgaria and Romania join the EU, due to the fact that they will no longer be at the EU’s external borders. The Romanian and Bulgarian BIPs have already been inspected by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) to ensure that they meet the required EU standards.

[1] Albita, Bucharest Otopeni, Constanta North, Constanta South, Halmeu, Sculeni Lasi, Siret, Stamora Moravita

[2] Bregovo, Burgas, Gjushevo, Kalotina, Kapitan Andreevo, Sofia, Varna, Zlatarevo

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