Stockholm addresses foot-and-mouth disease

EU heads of government agree to contribute veterinary resources to Member States hit by foot and mouth disease at Stockholm Summit

The first meeting of the European Council in Stockholm (23-24 March) began with an intense discussion over the gravity of the increased spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The first major breakthrough of the summit came when EU leaders agreed to contribute veterinary resources to Member States hit by foot-and-mouth disease.

Neither the controversial issue of vaccination nor the question of giving more money to the agriculture sector were discussed at the meeting.

Under the presidency conclusions, the European Council "is determined to contain and ultimately eradicate foot-and-mouth disease and BSE". In addition, they "urged third countries to lift measures taken which are not proportionate to either the extent of the problem or to the precautionary principle." Most importantly, the European Council called upon the Council and European Parliament to ensure the establishment of a European Food Authority before the end of 2001.

In another positive step forward, France and Germany have agreed to study ways of reforming the European Union's common agricultural policy (CAP) in advance of next year's planned review of farm spending. The joint study will address some of the fundamentally different stances on agriculture between the two states.

Germany would like to see a change from industrial agriculture to greener, more organic farming. Whereas France is ready to look at change but only after 2006 when current long-term agreements on EU's budgetary arrangements expire.

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