FSA Consultation, 23 November 2005
The Food Standards Agency is seeking views on the draft European Commission guidelines on the preparation of multi-annual national control plans for monitoring and enforcement of feed and food law animal and welfare rules as required by EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls. Responses are requested by: 1 February 2006
The Food Standards Agency, together with colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the devolved Agriculture Departments, are seeking your views on the draft European Commission guidelines on preparation of national control plans for the monitoring and enforcement of feed and food law, animal health and welfare rules, and plant health law. The draft guidelines can be found below.
The UK will have to produce such a plan in order to meet a requirement in EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls. The underpinning aim of the EU Regulation is to improve the consistency and effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement of feed and food law and animal health and animal welfare rules within Member States and across the EU and to provide safeguards to consumers. The main purpose of the plan is to ensure implementation of an effective official control system in these areas, as well as in respect of plant health law.
The Commission guidelines must be taken into account in preparing the UK's National Control Plan. Therefore, in effect, their impact equates to the impact of preparing the National Plan. In view of this, we are preparing a Public Sector Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the UK Plan itself rather than an RIA for the guidelines. The initial draft of this can be found below in and your views are being sought at this stage so that they may help inform the UK position on the guidelines. The RIA will be developed further in parallel with the preparation of the UK Plan.
It is expected that the Commission will adopt the guidelines via the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in mid-February 2006. However, before that there will be one or two Working Group meetings to discuss the guidelines.
EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls
This Regulation sets out the general approach that must be taken, and the principles that must be adopted, by the authorities in EU Member States that have responsibility for monitoring and enforcing feed and food law and animal health and animal welfare rules (i.e. the ‘competent authorities’ responsible for organising and undertaking ‘official controls’). It also provides the legal basis for the European Commission to assess the effectiveness of national enforcement arrangements. Most of the provisions apply from 1 January 2006 and the others from 1 January 2007. Details of these provisions are set out in Annex A to the initial RIA below. The text of the EU Regulation can be found on the Commission website.
Article 41 of the Regulation requires Member States to prepare a single, integrated, 'multi-annual', national control plan. The purpose of this is to ensure effective implementation of official controls in respect of feed and food law, animal health and welfare rules and, as appropriate, plant heath law. The plans will also provide a basis of assessments of the performance of national control systems by the Commission's Inspection Services (the Food and Veterinary Office). Each Member State must have a national control plan in place by 1 January 2007 and, thereafter, must keep this under review and report to the Commission on its implementation on an annual basis. Article 42 of the Regulation sets out the general information that the control plan must include but there is also provision for the Commission to draw up guidelines for Member States to assist them in the preparation of their control plans.
Draft Commission guidelines
The Commission is now in the process of developing the guidelines referred to above and a copy of the current draft of these can be found below for your comments and views. Please note that this a working document only. It may not necessarily represent the views of the Commission and the document that is presented to the SCoFCAH may differ. Further drafts may be issued before SCoFCAH consideration. We will update stakeholders through the Agency's website regarding any discussions of the guidelines by the Member States and on any other developments.
The guidelines are expected to be adopted as a Commission Decision. They are non-binding but Member States will be obliged to take account of them. An initial draft has already been discussed by Member States at Commission Working Group level and the draft below takes account of the preliminary views expressed.
Your views on any aspect of the draft guidelines are welcome but we would particularly value comments on the particular issues outlined below.
Draft European Commission guidelines on preparation of national control plans:http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/nationalcontrolplanappndx1.pdf