Commission proposes new legislation to control FMD outbreaks

The revised new Directive proposed by the Commission on 18 December aims to improve EU measures to control future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

On 18 December, the Commission adopted an improved legislation aiming to control new outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, or "FMD". The proposal for a new FMD Directive is based on the experience with the 2001 outbreak that triggered exceptionally high economic consequences.

In contrast with the "non-vaccination policy" that prevailed until recently, this new legislation gives emergency vaccination a central role in tackling an outbreak. This is in line with recent modifications made to international recommendations for trade in live animals and products of animal origin by the World Organisation for Animal Health, and new technological developments that enable the differentiation between vaccinated herds and those infected by the virus. "The amended law aims to maintain or, in the event of an outbreak, quickly regain the "FMD-free" status that is of key importance for trade in animals and animal products," said David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

The proposal outlines a series of measures to be taken in order to prepare for an outbreak and contains detailed provisions for the market entry of products derived from animals of susceptible species, such as meat and milk products, in the case of an outbreak.

The Council will request an opinion of the European Parliament after it receives the proposal from the Commission. The date foreseen for the finalisation of discussions is the spring of 2003.


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