Food Law News - EU - 1997

12 November 1997: VETERINARY LEGISLATION - European Commission proposes conclusion of EU / US Veterinary agreement.

Commission Press Release (IP/97/976), 12 November 1997

European Commission Proposes Conclusion of EU/US Veterinary Agreement.

The European Commission today adopted a proposal to the Council of Ministers put forward by Mr Franz FISCHLER, Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, to conclude a veterinary agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US) for animals and animal products. The objective of the agreement is to facilitate trade in live animals and animal products between the EU and the US by establishing a mechanism for the recognition of equivalence of sanitary measures operating in the two regions. The recognition by an importing country of the sanitary measures applied by an exporting country can permit greater efficiency in the utilisation of inspection and verification resources. This proposal includes application of the principle of regionalisation for the main animal diseases and lists those commodities for which equivalence is recognised. For those commodities where equivalence is not yet recognised, it sets out a programme of work towards recognition and the trade conditions applicable in the interim. The total trade between the EU and the US in the products covered by this draft Agreement for 1995 was about $ 1,500 million in each direction. This figure conceals significant differences in the importance to each party of certain commodities. It should be stressed that nothing in this draft Agreement changes EU legislation. Similar agreements have been, or are being negotiated with New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

Commenting on the proposal Mr Fischler said that the content of the proposed agreement is the result of long and difficult negotiations and while facilitating trade, will at the same time ensure the protection of public and animal health within both the EU and the US.

Under the draft Agreement, the US recognizes regionalisation of the EU i.e. that an outbreak of disease in a defined and restricted region need not result, as at present, in a ban on trade from the whole of the affected Member State and even from other Member States not directly affected but which trade with the affected State. US acceptance of EU disease control policy will thus have a significantly beneficial effect in terms of trade.

The proposal takes account of the principle of subsidiarity by explicit reference in the agreement to those responsibilities which fall to the Member States and those which are EU responsibilities. It also takes account of the rights and obligations of both parties under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and of the necessity to ensure a high level of protection of animal and public health in the EU.

In terms of trade, the principal US exports covered by the agreement are fish and fishery products ($350 million), petfood ($150 million) and fresh meat ($150 million). Other significant US exports include rendered fats, hides and skins and live horses.

For the EU, the principal exports covered are dairy products ($600 million), fish and fishery products ($170 million), fresh meat ($122 million) and meat products ($122 million).

In the case of fresh meat, while the US exports are divided between horsemeat, beef and poultrymeat (before the present cessation of poultrymeat exports), the EU exports to the US are almost all pigmeat ($120 million out of $122 million).

In February 1995, the Council agreed a mandate authorising the Commission to conduct negotiations with a view to the conclusion of agreements between the EU and third countries on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Following this mandate, the Commission has conducted negotiations with a number of third countries. An agreement has been concluded with New Zealand and an agreement with the Czech Republic is about to be concluded. Negotiations are continuing with Australia, Canada, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

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