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Brussels, 28 November 2006

More veterinary and food safety decisions for after Enlargement agreed

Another series of Commission proposals on food safety and animal health issues, related to the upcoming accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, were backed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today. Member State veterinary experts voted in favour of approving the Bulgarian and Romanian contingency plans for avian influenza, Newcastle disease, classical swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. They also endorsed transitional measures for imports of animal origin which enter Bulgaria and Romania before 1 January 2007 and agreed to transitional measures for a considerable number of Bulgarian milk establishments. The Standing Committee already voted on a number of other veterinary and food safety issues related to Romanian and Bulgarian accession in early November (see IP/06/1537). Such Decisions are a normal part of the pre-accession preparations, and similar measures were agreed for the 10 new Member States prior to the last EU Enlargement in 2004.

Approval of contingency plans for serious animal diseases

The Standing Committee voted in favour of Commission proposals to approve the Romanian and Bulgarian contingency plans for the control of certain highly contagious animal diseases. The contingency plans outline the operational arrangements that Bulgaria and Romania would put in place to deal with any occurrence of avian influenza, Newcastle disease, classical swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Each plan is dedicated to one of these diseases in order to ensure that all necessary control measures foreseen in the relevant EU veterinary legislation can be rapidly applied. The plans include, amongst other things, the details on operating disease control centres, how resources would be organised and how emergency control measures would be performed, in the event of a serious animal disease outbreak. Under EU legislation, every Member State is required to have such contingency plans in place.

Transitional measures for products of animal origin imported before 1/1/07

The Standing Committee also endorsed transitional measures for products of animal origin which were either imported into Bulgaria and Romania before 1 January 2007, or are still under customs supervision on that date. As these goods were imported before the date of Enlargement, they may not be in compliance with all EU veterinary rules. Therefore, non-compliant products will only be allowed to be sold on the domestic markets, and will be specially marked.

By way of derogation, Bulgaria and Romania may export these products to third countries under strict conditions i.e. authorisation of the importing third country, consignment must be officially sealed and may not cross the territory of another Member State. By the end of 2007, all stocks of the non-compliant imported animal products in question should be used up or else removed from the market. Those still under customs supervision on 1 January 2008 must be destroyed at the expense of the owner of the consignment. .

Transitional measures for the Bulgarian dairy sector

Member States also backed a Commission proposal grant post-Enlargement transitional measures to a number of Bulgarian milk establishments, as foreseen in the Accession Treaty. A considerable proportion of raw milk delivered to milk processing establishments in Bulgaria is currently not in compliance with EU requirements. Therefore, much of the milk processed by the dairy sector is not eligible for export to other Member States. Under the Decision agreed today, a series of establishments across Bulgaria have been added to the list of establishments which may continue to receive non-compliant milk until 31 December 2009, on the condition that their products are only sold on the domestic market. The produce from these establishments will carry a special identification mark. Certain other dairy establishments, which have shown that they can ensure the complete separation of compliant and non-compliant milk in the production process, will be allowed to participate in intra-Community trade. This, however, is on the strict condition that they keep the compliant and non-compliant milk separate from point of collection, right through the processing chain, to the point of delivery. Only products made from compliant milk may be dispatched to other parts of the EU. The Bulgarian authorities will be responsible for checking that these conditions are adhered to.

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