The European Commissioners for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne and for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen announced an initiative whereby veterinary experts of the current Member States will assist at the future veterinary Border Inspection Posts shortly before and for some weeks after accession.
"The extension of the internal market and of the EU border with third countries will impact strongly on the imports of live animals and products of animal origin," Commissioner Byrne said. "The new Member States will be in the front line of the EU for imports from third countries in all their new Border Inspection Posts. Staff will have to fully apply the acquis on behalf of the whole EU and thus help to ensure food safety and security of animal health within the EU. We want to do everything possible to contribute to a smooth accession and we strongly support the co-operation between current and new Member States."
"A lot has been achieved to prepare the new Border Inspection Posts for their functions. The New Member States have undertaken the legislative tasks, the necessary construction work is in most cases finalised and staff has been allocated and trained. Considerable investment has also been made by the EU under many of the Phare twinning programmes and the veterinary services have been supported by the Commission services, in particular by the TAIEX office." stated Commissioner Verheugen.
For the crucial first period of accession, the EC says that 'a special effort' will be made, and the responsible Commission services (the TAIEX office of DG Enlargement and DG SANCO), will take the initiative to propose the assistance of veterinary staff of the current Member States at newly approved BIPS shortly before and for some weeks after accession.
The Commission has emphasized the fact that the initiative will depend on the active support of the Member States. It says that so far it has received positive reactions from the Member States and has discussed this issue at the meeting of the Chief Veterinary Officers on 18 and 19 of March in Brussels.
The Commission added that if construction of facilities and procedures are in compliance with the EU requirements, Border Inspection Posts can then be approved by a Commission Decision. By today, the Commission has identified some 20 Border Inspection Posts which are in the process of being listed now and there are possibly 15 or 20 additional posts that can be listed by accession, providing all the criteria are met.
The veterinarians who will be made available by the current Member States will be distributed to these Border Inspection Posts based upon their experience, geography of the recipient country and a number of other factors including language skills, the Commission said.
Although animal-borne diseases have not proved to be particularly problematic in the Accession States, the Commission is duty bound to implement a strict programme to avoid any future disease outbreaks spreading throughout the Europe Union. These measures were part of the stipulations established by Brussels in establishing a 25-State European Union.
Although EU trade in meat will be limited by safety regulations after enlargement has taken place, industry experts believe that as the market opens up, countries such as Poland and Hungary will be increasingly importing livestock and meat products to the existing European Union on account of price competitivity.