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Brussels, 22 July 2009

Commission approves extra funds to combat Bluetongue and Scrapie

The European Commission decided today to provide additional financial support to the Bluetongue vaccination programmes of various Member States and approved a series of special support measures to help Cyprus better deal with the problem of Scrapie in its sheep and goat populations. Vaccination is the main tool to control Bluetongue and, by extension, to reduce farmer losses and trade disturbances that are attributed to the disease. The additional amount to be made available to Member States for vaccination is approximately 59 million Euros. The special support measures to combat Scrapie in Cyprus will be employed to implement a two-year programme that has been submitted by the Cypriot authorities. More than 5 million Euros will become available in 2009 to assist Cyprus' efforts against Scrapie.

EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: “Ensuring good animal health has been one of my top priorities since I assumed my duties in the European Commission. It is no secret that improved animal health can only have tangible and real benefits to the animals themselves but also to the farmers and the economy. Today, we have proven our will to substantially support Member States in their efforts to fight important animal diseases."

Bluetongue vaccination

Since 2006 new serotypes of Bluetongue have spread in an unprecedented number of Member States. The disease causes losses to the farming industry and disrupts trade in live ruminants.

For 2008, the first year where appropriate vaccines were made available, the Community financed the vaccination campaigns as emergency measures.

For the continuation of these campaigns, the Commission approved in November 2008 annual vaccination and surveillance programmes for 2009 and allocated more than 61 million Euros to support the purchase of vaccines and to cover costs for diagnostic tests.

Today, an additional amount of approximately 59 million Euros is being made available for the Member States' vaccination campaigns against Bluetongue, so that Community support to the costs to administer the vaccine is now also possible.

Vaccination, eliminates mortality and losses in production, facilitates trade of animals from infected areas and, when applied extensively, significantly reduces the circulation of the virus.

Scrapie in Cyprus

The approved scrapie programme for the years 2009 and 2010 submitted by Cyprus will receive special support, including a 75% level of Community contribution to the compensation paid to the owners by the Government of Cyprus as well as costs for personnel and the destruction of carcasses.

In order to reduce as much as possible the number of animals to be culled, the Commission also contributes to the genotyping programme so that all resistant animals are identified.

The amount allocated for 2009 is 5,4 million Euros. For 2010 it is estimated that a further 8 to 9 million Euros will be made available for this purpose.

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