Official Journal of the European Union

C 110/22

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘proposal for a Council Directive laying down animal health rules for the importation into the Community of certain live ungulate animals, and amending Directive 90/426/EEC and 92/65/EEC’

(COM(2003) 570 final – 2003/0224 CNS)

(2004/C 110/06)

On 16 October 2003 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 37 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the above-mentioned proposal.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 5 February 2004. The rapporteur was Mr Donnelly.

At its 406th plenary session of 25/26 February 2004 (meeting of 25 February 2004), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by by 106 votes in favour and 2 abstentions.

1.   Introduction


The recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and also classical swine fever (CSF) have prompted a thorough review of Community measures to prevent and combat these diseases. As part of the response to possible future outbreaks the Commission is proposing to rationalise, strengthen and update the legislation governing the importation into the Community of wild and domestic animals of species susceptible to either or both FMD and CSF.


Council Directive 72/462/EEC (1) of December 1972 on the health and veterinary inspection issues relating to the importation of bovine, ovine, caprine, swine and fresh meat or meat products from third countries ensures a high level of animal health protection by laying down the general sanitary requirements for certain imports from third countries. However, as part of the hygiene package, Council Directive 2002/99/EC (2) laying down the animal health rules governing production, processing, distribution and the introduction of products of animal origin for human consumption will replace the requirements for meat and meat products in Directive 72/462. This proposal on live ungulate importation and the amendments of Directives 90/426/EEC (3) and 92/65/EEC (4) will ultimately result in the repeal of Council Directive 72/462 EEC.


Under Council Directive 90/426/EEC of 26 June 1990 on animal health conditions governing the movement and import from third countries of equidae, imports into the Community of equidae are allowed only from third countries appearing on a list drawn up in accordance with Directive 72/462/EEC. This therefore will require amendments in order to meet the new requirements resulting from the updating and strengthening process.


Council Directive 92/65 EEC of 13 July 1992, laying down animal health requirements governing the trade in imports into the Community of animals, semen, ova and embryos not subject to the animal health requirements laid down in specific Community rules referred to in Annex A (1) to Directive 90/426/EEC, lays down the conditions for the importation into the Community of ungulate animals other than domestic bovine, ovine, caprine, porcine and equine animals. This Directive will also require amendments as the new proposal lays down rules for wild as well as domestic ungulates. An amendment of Council Directive 92/65 to reflect the new proposal's criteria on the drawing up of a list of Authorised third countries is also required.

2.   Gist of Commission proposal


This proposal lays down the animal health requirements for the importation into the Community of live ungulate animals of the species listed in Annex A.


The proposal consolidates in a single act the animal health requirements relating to all cloven-hoofed animal species, including the animal welfare provisions of Community legislation.


The proposal also clarifies the conditions for granting authorisation to a third country for the exportation of equidae (e.g. horses) to the EU and amends Directives 90/426/EEC and 92/65/EEC accordingly.


Article 4 lays down specific conditions, including the taking into account of previous experience of imports and audits of third countries, that must be considered when preparing a list of authorised third countries.


Derogations are proposed under articles 8 and 9, so as to allow flexibility when for example animals travel to and from shows and sporting events.


Inspections and audits of third countries from the Commission in order to verify conformity with or equivalence to Community animal health rules are envisaged.


It is proposed to extend to this proposal the new comitology procedures established in Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 (5) laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority, and laying down procedures in matters of food.

3.   General comments


The EESC welcomes this proposal as part of the on-going review of Community measures to prevent and combat foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever.


The EESC supports the concept of consolidating the rules governing the imports of wild and domestic ungulates into one Directive.


The EESC is also very much in favour of the integration into this proposal of the general animal welfare requirements of Council Directive 91/628/EEC (6) on the protection of animals during transport, in particular as regards watering and feeding.


The EESC welcomes the use of the new comitology procedures, which allows a timely response when acting on scientific advice.

4.   Specific comments


While the EESC recognises that flexibility in the form of derogations is desirable, it emphasises that derogations should only be made on a case-by-case basis so that the risk of importing diseases is not increased.


The EESC recognises the existence of potential new risks, as a consequence of the new borders the EU will have after the enlargement; the EESC therefore recommends that sufficient resources are made available by the Commission for the inspection and auditing in third countries.

5.   Conclusions


The EESC supports the Commission's proposal in the interests of the protection of animal health and consistency of Community legislation.

Brussels, 25 February 2004.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee


(1)  OJ L 302 , 31.12.1972 P. 28 - 54

(2)  OJ L 018, 23.1.2003 P. 11 - 20

(3)  OJ L 224, 18.8.1990 P. 42 - 54

(4)  OJ L 268, 14.9.1992 P. 54 - 72

(5)  OJ L 31, 1.2.2002 P. 1 - 24

(6)  OJ L 340, 11.12.1991 P. 17 - 27