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Brussels, 8 August 2011
Commission welcomes Russia's decision to cancel temporary import requirements for fresh EU vegetables
Following the epidemiological evidence that the E-coli infection was over, and a request from the European Commission to Russia to lift the certification system as provided for in the agreement between EU and Russia of the 22nd of June, the Commission welcomes Russia's confirmation of its request to cancel the temporary import requirements for fresh EU vegetables as of tomorrow (9th August 2011).
Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli made the following statement:
"I welcome the decision by the Russian competent authorities to cancel the temporary import requirements for fresh EU vegetables. The decision implements the political agreement reached between Presidents Barroso and Medvedev on 10 June, elaborated with concrete implementation during my visit to Moscow on 22 June. That agreement provided, among other things, that the temporary certification system introduced for the imports of fresh EU vegetables would be applied up to 10 days after no new human case linked to E. coli O104 was reported by EU Member States. The last E. coli O104 human case was reported on Wednesday, July 27.
"Whereas the Commission remains vigilant and committed to learn the lessons of the crises that has caused so much suffering, it is of course welcome that this development represents the successful outcome of intense efforts to sort out this trade issue that emerged as a result the E. coli outbreak."
After the outbreak in Germany, the Russian Federation introduced, on Thursday June 2, an EU-wide ban on the imports of all vegetables. The Commission considered the ban disproportionate to the potential risk and scientifically unjustified. About a week later, epidemiological investigations and laboratory testing verified that various types of sprouts produced in one farm south of Hamburg were responsible for the outbreak.
A high level political agreement between Presidents Barroso and Medvedev was reached on June 10 replacing the ban with a temporary certification system. On June 22, the details of the certification regime were agreed in Moscow between Russian officials and a Commission delegation, headed by Commissioner Dalli.
An outbreak was later reported in Bordeaux, France, which was caused by the E. coli strain (O104) that was isolated in Germany. A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report, published on July 5, established a link between the two outbreaks and fenugreek seeds from Egypt. On the same day, the European Commission adopted measures asking Member States to withdraw from the market, sample and destroy fenugreek seeds imported from one Egyptian exporter between 2009 and 2011. That decision also provides that imports of various types of Egyptian seeds and beans for sprouting are suspended until October 31.
During the E. coli outbreak a total of 3, 910 people fell ill in the EU and Norway, out of whom 46 died.
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