New EU animal health laws to clarify farmers’ responsibilities

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, has welcomed the adoption of a new Animal Health Law by the European Parliament.

The new law comes into force on April 20 and is intended to pave the way for a more efficient system to combat transmissible animal diseases.

“These diseases, like foot-and-mouth disease or bluetongue, can have a devastating effect on our livestock production,” Andriukaitis said.

“Others such as avian influenza, or certain newly emerging diseases, also have the potential to affect human health.”

Compared with the system currently in place, the new Animal Health Law intends to provide simpler and clearer directions for national authorities.

“The adopted legislation also clarifies the division of responsibilities between animal keepers, traders, veterinarians, and national authorities and puts in place better notification and surveillance tools to fight animal disease,”  Mr Andriukaitis said.

The animal health law is part of a package of measures proposed by the Commission in May 2013 to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. It is the biggest and the first of those to get the approval of the co-legislators.

Several delegated and implementing acts will be adopted by the Commission until April 2019 to make the new rules applicable.

The new animal health law will support the EU livestock sector in its quest towards competitiveness and safe and smooth EU market of animals and of their products, leading to growth and jobs in this important sector:

• The huge number of legal acts are streamlined into a single law.
• Simpler and clearer rules enable authorities and those having to follow the rules to focus on key priorities: preventing and eradicating disease.
• Responsibilities are clarified for farmers, vets and others dealing with animals.
• The new rules allow greater use of new technologies for animal health activities – surveillance of pathogens, electronic identification and registration of animals.
• Better early detection & control of animal diseases, including emerging diseases linked to climate change, will help to reduce the occurrence and effects of animal epidemics.
• There will be more flexibility to adjust rules to local circumstances, and to emerging issues such as climate and social change.
• It sets out a better legal basis for monitoring animal pathogens resistant to antimicrobial agents supplementing existing rules and two other proposals currently being negotiated in the European Parliament and Council, on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed.