Parliament sets up special committee on foot-and-mouth

At the European Parliament plenary session on 16 January 2002, MEPs will set up a temporary committee to examine the recent foot-and-mouth epidemic and review EU policy on animal diseases. The announcement comes a few days after Britain was officially declared “foot-and-mouth free”, 11 months after the first outbreak of the epidemic which caused four million animals to be slaughtered.

The establishment of this committee was first suggested by MEP Robert Sturdy (EPP-ED) and was recommended by the leaders of Parliament's political groups in December 2001. The committee will review the management of foot and mouth disease and the implementation of relevant Community law. It's tasks will be to:

  • evaluate EU policy
  • evaluate controls on meat imports from non-EU countries
  • assess the cost to the EU budget of the epidemic
  • issue proposals concerning the prevention and fighting of disease in the agricultural sector, and vaccination policy in particular

The committee, which will be composed of 30 people, will hear witnesses, including scientists and politicians, before making recommendations. It will, however, not have the power to force witnesses to appear. In line with the EU's call for more transparency, all its meetings will be public.

The committee will be set up for a period of 12 months. It will invite rather than summon the Commission, governments and public officials to its hearings, and will make (non-binding) recommendations to the Parliament at the end of its term. The chair and other office-holders will be elected at the committee's constituent meeting in February.


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