Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Bryne, has warned that too little attention has been paid to bringing the food safety standards of the candidate countries up to EU levels.


Commissioner Byrne's remark echoes an earlier statement by
the Spanish Agriculture Minister, Miguel Arias Canete, who
declared in February that the candidate countries need to
improve their food safety controls. He pointed out that
their "porous" borders with other eastern countries - such
as Turkey, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldavia where food
controls are almost non-existent - constituted a potential
risk.


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.