Commenting on the agreement, Mr FISCHLER said that its content is the result of long and difficult negotiations. The veterinary agreement represents an important step in deepening the relations between the EU and the US in general and in the veterinary field in particular. The agreement sends an important message. Namely the recognition that our veterinary requirements on both sides of the Atlantic essentially are equivalent and seek as a common objective a high level of health and consumer protection. Concluding, he expressed the hope that the agreement would lead to enhanced mutual trust, and help to resolve potentially contentious issues at an early stage.
Under the agreement, the US recognizes the regionalisation policy of the EU i.e. that an outbreak of an animal 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 or 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 agreement takes account of the principle of subsidiarity by explicit reference in it 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 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, Canada and the Czech Republic. Negotiations are continuing with Australia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.