Following a possible outbreak of avian influenza in Germany last week, the European Commission has decided to reinforce the control measures already put in place by German authorities. Avian influenza, which is a highly contagious poultry disease, has already devastated large parts of the European poultry industry.
Suspicions of an outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region close to the Dutch border were raised on 9 May. The German authorities, in co-operation with the commission services, immediately put in place measures to control the spread.
These measures include a ban on the transport of live poultry and hatching eggs in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The commission has now reinforced these measures by defining them at the European level. It has specified that no live poultry, hatching eggs and fresh, unprocessed and non-heat-treated poultry manure or litter may be transported out of the region to Europe or other parts of the world. Poultry products may also not be transported within region itself.
The German veterinary authority may now authorise the immediate slaughter of many poultry products within North Rhine-Westphalia.
The measures outlined by the commission are applicable until 16 May. The situation will be reviewed at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which is scheduled for 15 May 2003.
This meeting will be attended by representatives of the member states and the commission. The measures adopted by the commission are likely to be updated to take into account the development of the situation.
The commission has stated that it will continue to work closely with the German authorities to ensure proper co-ordination within the EU.