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Brussels, 30 September 2010

Free movement of goods: Commission welcomes Belgian compliance with rules on birds born in captivity; infringement case closed

The European Commission has welcomed Belgium's changes to its legislation governing birds born and bred in captivity, which are now compliant with EU rules on the free movement of goods. The Commission has therefore decided to close its infringement case against Belgium. Previously, Belgian legislation restricted imports of birds born and bred in captivity that were legally sold in other Member States.

Belgian legislation previously restricted imports of birds legally sold in other Member States by requiring them to be fitted with an anodised metal ring, whilst other Member States accepted the use of microchips. Belgium contravened EU law by not recognising markings valid under Regulation 338/97 and other national markings for birds not covered under this Regulation. In addition, professional traders were prevented from keeping indigenous European birds sold legally in other Member States. These restrictions, which affected the import, keeping and sale of birds born and bred in captivity, even if these birds were legally sold in another Member State, were in breach of EU rules on the free movement of goods (Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

Following a judgement of the EU Court of Justice in 2009 (C-100/08, Commission vs. Belgium), Belgium amended the legislation in question. The Commission has closely monitored Belgian compliance with the Court judgment and is now satisfied that both federal and regional (Flemish) law are compliant with EU law.

Thanks to these legislative changes, the mutual recognition of markings of birds legally marketed in other Member States is assured and unjustified restrictions on the activities of professional traders have been lifted, while maintaining a high level of protection of animals.

More Information

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/457.

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