Commissioner Bryne discussed the issue of food safety with the Agriculture Ministers of the candidate countries, during the Agriculture Council in Brussels on 19 March. The Commissioner is determined to force the candidate countries to improve their food safety standards because the EU will not compromise its own safety levels.
In the biggest candidate country, Poland, only 30 dairies and 19 meat-processing plants comply with EU standards. Other producers will be allowed to produce food for the domestic market only after accession.
The Commission underlines that it is vitally important to ensure that the EU food safety law is fully transposed into the national legislation of each candidate country and that administrative structures and procedures are strengthened and reformed in good time prior to accession. Nevertheless, the EU will consider well justified requests for transition periods if they do not undermine key EU standards.
The main outstanding issues in the ongoing negotiations on food safety are:
- the capacity of the candidate countries to guarantee sufficient external border controls;
- compliance with the high level of EU health protection rules regarding BSE;
- bringing food processing establishments up to EU standards;
- respect of the EU's Animal Welfare rules.