EU laws on animal health and welfare are adopted by the Parliament and the EU Council, the latter acting by qualified majority voting. The rules usually reflect international standards including, in particular, those adopted by the World Organisation for Animal Health. EU funding typically covers 50 percent of the national government’s cost.
EU legislation covered the following areas, in particular;
- Disease prevention; animal health rules and the control and eradication of animal diseases such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease and bovine tuberculosis.
- Imports and intra-EU trade in animals and animals of product origin; animal health rules governing trade, traceability, harmonisation of checks and control of animal by-products.
- The welfare of farm animals; minimum welfare standards for keeping, transporting and killing farm animals
Veterinary medicines; medicated feeding stuff, stocks and veterinary medicine residues in livestock.
There is detailed regulation on animal feed covering food safety, food hygiene and safety standards.
Products of Animal Origin
EU Directive on animal health rules governs the production processing; distribution and introduction of products of animal origin for human consumption. The Directive covers all stages of the product of animal origin from primary production, processing, transport, storage and sale. It applies to live animals intended for human consumption. It lays down animal health conditions for all stages.
The authorities of Member States must take measures to ensure that imported products of animal origin comply with the requirements applicable to EU products.
The Directive makes provision for the creation of an updated list of non-EU countries and regions for which import is authorized. It sets out conditions a country needs to meet to be included in those lists. The Directive requires non-EU countries and regions to undergo an EU audit to obtain a veterinary certificate in accordance with the procedure provided in the Directive.
The Directive on animal health rules governs the production processing; distribution and introduction of products of animal origin for human consumption. This covers all production stages of the product of animal origin. This includes primary production, processing, transport, storage and sale. It applies to live animals intended for human consumption. It lays down animal health conditions applicable at these stages.
States must require veterinary certificates. There are detailed rules for their application. States are responsible for official veterinary controls and measures applicable where infringements of animal health rules are found. States must take the necessary measures to ensure that the imported products of animal origin comply with requirements applicable to EU product.
The Directive makes States responsible for measures needed to eradicate the transmission of animal diseases and lays down conditions to be met for producers of products of animal origin. Products from areas which are subject to bans or animal health restrictions are prohibited.
States are responsible for measures needed to eradicate the transmission of animal diseases. The Directive specifies that states must require veterinary certificates and provides rules as to their application.
The Directive provides for annexes and amendment of annexes where the following are specified:
- animal diseases,
- description of compulsory elements including specific identification marks for meat from a territory subject to health restrictions,
- general principles of certification.
The Directive makes provision for the creation and updating of lists of non-EU countries from which imports are authorized. It lays down conditions a country needs to meet to be included in the lists. They must undergo a compulsory community audit and obtain a veterinary certificate in accordance with the procedure in the Directive.
Those provision for a revision clause dealing with the various Annexes to Directive covering:
- Animal diseases covered;
- Description of the compulsory elements, which should include identification marks for meat from a territory subject to animal health restrictions and general principles of certification.
A directive on undesirable substances and products in animal feed lays down the maximum limit for the presence of undesirable substances in animal feed put into circulation in the EU. Undesirable substances are any substance or product with the exception of pathogenic agents, which are present in or on the product intended for animal feed and which present potential danger to animal or human health or to the environment or could affect livestock production. The range of substances covered by the Directive includes arsenic, lead, mercury, DDT, dioxin and certain mustards.
A directive applies to all animal feed including raw materials for feed, additives and complementary feeding stuff. The Directive lays down a list of undesirable substances for which it sets limit values above which the presence in animal feeds is forbidden. This list is regularly updated in the light of technical progress.
When the values are exceeded, the EU states in cooperation with the operators must carry out investigations to identify the source of the substance. The Commission must be informed of the outcome of investigations and measures must be taken to reduce the substances or eliminate them.
The Directive prohibits mixing a product containing undesirable substances with the same product in order to dilute it. Where a danger to human or animal health becomes apparent, states may provisionally take more stringent measures.
The Directive on animal nutrition concerns products manufactured by certain technical processes which act as a direct or indirect protein source for animals and are put into circulation within the EU as feeding stuff. Before approval of the product, it must be ascertained whether it has the required nutritional value. It must be established that the product when used, has no detrimental effect on human or animal health or on the environment.
The products in question are listed in the annex. Provision is made for an EU procedure to adopt provisions of the annex. There are guidelines for procedures to fix the requisite composition, purity, physio-chemical and biological properties of products in light of scientific and technological developments of knowledge.
The TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System) is a single electronic database for the monitoring movement of animals and products of animal origin within the EU. It provides for
- electronic transmission of information;
- centralized management of statutory reference data;
- interoperability with other systems and
The system helps facilitate the exchange of information relating to animal health and welfare between competent authorities of regions where health certificates or documents accompanying the animals or animal products are issued and competent authorities of the State of destination.
This helps to improve the monitoring of animals and products of animal origin to assist in decision-making, trace the source of disease and infection and prevent its spread, to centralize assessment of risks, provide veterinary authorities with reference data and reduce the administrative burden on them by integrating the economic operators.
The information in the TRACES system is derived from
- common veterinary entry documents for animals imported from third countries;
- Common veterinary entry documents for products in transit within the EU;
- CVED for all rejected consignments;
- health certificates relating to intra-EU trade in animals and products of animal origin under EU legislation.
Operators may be integrated into TRACES subject to being registered with the authority. When they wish to transport animals, they must fill in an electronic form in a standardized format, which contains all the appropriate information concerning the animal or product of animal origin, destination and any stages.
In the case of intra-EU trade in animals or products of animal origin, the information is forwarded to the competent authority of the State of origin. After checking the content of the form, the authority may reject or validate the transport. Where appropriate, it will issue a health certificate and route plan relating to the animals’ welfare in the official languages of the State of origin and destination. On this decision, the operator may carry out the transport.
In the case of import or transit of animals or products of animal origin, the official at the border inspection post who checks the animals or products and the veterinary import documents is responsible for entering the relevant information in the TRACES database, including the decision whether to grant entry or refuse access to the EU and for issuing a CVED.
All information is sent to the veterinary authority of the State of destination, to the central authority of countries of transit and all appropriate controls. It can be consulted during checks carried out en route or at a destination. It may also be consulted by economic operators registered in the database.
An aid to decision-making automatically gives information on the statutory certification requirements for the type of product and origin, as well as operational information on any safeguard measures, tightened checks and consignments of the same type which have been rejected at the border.
The TRACES system encompasses the bodies currently responsible for receiving and sending information at regional and national level.
The EU Commission is responsible for controlling the TRACES system for developing and maintaining it.