P5_TA-PROV(2002)0614

Foot-and-mouth disease: 2001 crisis

 

PE 322.219

European Parliament resolution on measures to control foot-and-mouth disease in the European Union in 2001 and future measures to prevent and control animal diseases in the European Union (2002/2153(INI))

 

The European Parliament,

        having regard to Rules 150(2), 154(1) and 160 of its Rules of Procedure and its decision of 16 January 2002[1] setting up a temporary committee on foot-and-mouth disease,

 

        having regard to its resolutions of 5 April 2001[2] and 6 September 2001[3] on foot-and-mouth disease in the European Union in 2001,

 

        having regard to the hearings of its temporary committee on foot-and-mouth disease and the visits by delegations from that committee to the areas most affected in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,

 

        having regard to the reports by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission on inspection visits to the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and the Netherlands in connection with foot-and-mouth Disease in 2001 (DG (SANCO) 3318, 3323, 3324, 3331, 3333, 3338 and 3439 (2001)),

 

        having regard to the following reports:

 

     ‘Foot-and-Mouth Disease: Lessons to be Learned Inquiry’: report of the inquiry panel chaired by Dr Iain Anderson CBE, London[4],

 

     ‘The 2001 Outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease’, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 939 Session 2001-2002: 21 June 2002, National Audit Office, London[5],

 

     ‘Infectious Diseases in Livestock’, Scientific questions relating to the transmission, prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks of infectious disease in livestock in Great Britain, Royal Society, London[6],

 

     ‘Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Scotland - The Scottish Executive Response’, Scottish Executive, March 2002[7],

 

     ‘Inquiry into Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Scotland July 2002’, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh[8],

 

     ‘Foot-and-Mouth Disease Controls: An assessment by the National Assembly for Wales’[9],

 

     ‘Review of the Handling of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Wales February 2002’, Welsh Local Government Association, Cardiff[10],

 

     ‘Northumberland Foot-and-Mouth Disease Public Inquiry, Report of the Inquiry Panel’, inquiry panel chaired by Professor Michael Dower CBE, Northumberland County Council[11],

 

     ‘Foot-and-Mouth Investigation: Learning the Lessons 2001/2002’, Gloucestershire County Council[12],

 

     ‘Crisis and Opportunity’, Devon Foot-and-Mouth Inquiry 2001, Final Report by Professor Ian Mercer CBE, published by Devon Books, Tiverton, Devon[13],

 

     ‘Inquiry Report: An Independent Public Inquiry into the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Epidemic that occurred in Cumbria in 2001’, Cumbria Foot-and-Mouth Disease Inquiry published by Cumbria County Council 2002[14],

 

     ‘Foot-and-Mouth: Heart and Soul’, a collection of personal accounts of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Cumbria 2001, compiled and edited by Caz Graham, published by Small Sister for BBC Radio Cumbria, Cumbria, ISBN 0 954157 0 3,

 

     ‘MKZ 2001: De evaluatie van een crisis’ (‘FMD 2001: Evaluation of a crisis’), March 2002, B&A Groep Beleidsonderzoek & Advies bv, The Hague[15],

 

     ‘Veerkracht’ (‘Resilience’), Alterra report 539 by E.H. van Haaften and P.H. Kersten, commissioned by the Rural Areas and Agricultural Systems Innovation Network, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Alterra, Research Institute for the Green World, Wageningen[16],

 

        having regard to the ‘Petitie, aangeboden door ondernemers uit de hippische sector in de toezichtsgebieten Oene en Kootwijkerbroek’ (petition by businesspeople from the equestrian sector in the Oene and Kootwijkerbroek surveillance zones),

 

        having regard to the petition by the ‘Ent Europa’ Foundation,

 

        having regard to the numerous written contributions by private individuals and organisations addressed to its Temporary Committee on Foot-and-Mouth Disease concerning the course taken by foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 and concerning future policy on preventing and controlling foot-and-mouth disease,

 

        having regard to the report of the Temporary Committee on Foot-and-Mouth Disease (A5-0405/2002),

 

I.       States the following observations and considerations:

 

Introduction

 

1.       The speed at which foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) of the Pan-Asia O type spread within the European Union, particularly the United Kingdom, in 2001, was unprecedented in the history of FMD, as was the scale of the outbreaks;

 

2.       FMD is a viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals (ruminants, pigs). The aphthovirus is highly infectious and extremely communicable. The great significance of the disease consists in the severe economic losses it causes as a result of the fall in animal yields, the barring of their products from the market, the expenses involved in eradication and, not least, in the enormous social and psychological consequences for the populations affected;

 

3.       In the United Kingdom alone, according to the UK National Audit Office, 6.5 million animals (cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and wild animals) were slaughtered, for which compensation was paid, either to combat the spread of the disease or as a direct consequence of disease control measures (so-called ‘welfare’ slaughter), in connection with 2 030 confirmed outbreaks; other estimates suggest that the number of animals slaughtered may even have been as high as 10 million, because many slaughtered new-born lambs and calves were not counted for compensation purposes. In the Netherlands, the figure was around 285 000 animals, in France around 63 000 and in Ireland 53 000. The species most affected by the crisis in the United Kingdom was sheep, in which it is very difficult to diagnose the disease externally;

 

4.       The 2001 FMD epidemic and the measures to tackle it caused major social disruption in the countries affected and in other parts of the EU and had a massive economic impact on the areas concerned. Particularly farmers whose livestock were not slaughtered and the upstream and downstream sectors of food production, as well as other sectors of the economy, especially tourism, suffered serious financial losses;

 

5.       The source of the epidemic has not been definitely identified. Inquiries by the UK Government suggest that it was caused by feeding pigs on a farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland with waste from illegally imported meat, which infected them at the beginning of February 2001, after which the virus spread to sheep on a nearby farm and so, probably via the Longtown sheep market and other markets, to the whole country, France and Ireland. Through indirect contact with infected sites, the disease also spread to the Netherlands. Suspicions have been expressed that the crisis may have arisen from different causes, but these have not been substantiated;

         

6.       Since only a very small number of cases were actually tested, and relatively few cases were confirmed to have the disease on laboratory testing, it is crucial that the epidemiological data be published and be subject to independent critical analysis, so that lessons about disease spread and control can be learned for the future;

 

The parameters for FMD control in 2001

 

7.       The substantial increase in the number and stocking density of livestock in certain regions in the EU, along with greater animal movements, and the intensification of trade between the EU and third countries in recent decades, has increased the risk of infection of large animal populations in the EU and of correspondingly large losses to the industry and costs to the public purse because of the requisite inspection and disease control measures, as well as compensation payments. Support mechanisms within the framework of the common agricultural policy in the EU encourage intensive transport of and trade in animals susceptible to FMD within the internal market, and thus the spread of animal diseases, but there has not been any corresponding expansion of inspections or veterinary systems, research into vaccines and modern testing equipment;

 

8.       Several Member States of the European Union had a strategy of general vaccination of their cattle before the European Union decided in 1991 to change to the present culling strategy;

 

9.       Since 1992, contrary to the practice previously adopted in most Member States, the EU has banned prophylactic vaccination against FMD. On the basis of this ban, the EU pursues a ‘non-vaccination’ policy as a general rule, including when an outbreak of FMD occurs. The ‘non-vaccination’ policy is based on the trade-policy recommendations of the International Office of Epizootics (IOE), which, at least at the time of the crisis in 2001, did not adequately regulate the preconditions and consequences of emergency vaccinations in the event of an FMD outbreak. The IOE recommendations provided for excessively long periods before ‘FMD-free’ status, which is absolutely vital to trade, could be reacquired if emergency vaccination (protective inoculation) programmes were carried out during an outbreak, and did not take account of the state of the art with regard to tests to distinguish vaccinated animals from infected animals;

 

10.     In addition, the IOE did not provide for a rapid procedure for the recognition of FMD-free areas within a country where outbreaks had occurred and an FMD-infected area had been designated. Only after a considerable delay would it have been possible to designate an FMD-free area, with the result that any regionalisation, particularly in conjunction with emergency vaccinations, did not seem attractive;

 

11.     The EU's policy in the event of an FMD outbreak has accordingly hitherto been geared to culling livestock from infected herds and FMD-susceptible animals which had come into contact with the source of infection or infected vectors or which were shown to have become infected in any other way (a ‘stamping-out’ policy). As a general rule, emergency vaccinations were to be avoided and performed only - at the request of the Member State concerned - by way of exception, in the event of a major epidemic. In the light of experience of FMD in 2001, this policy cannot continue in its present form;

 

12.     The 2001 FMD crisis was a traumatic experience in the areas affected. For the purpose of determining control strategies and methods, the policy of the EU and the Member States must therefore in future take account of the social and psychological impact on the public and effects on non-agricultural sectors of the economy, such as tourism, in the areas affected by a major FMD outbreak. Hitherto the basic ‘non-vaccination’ policy has assigned undue priority to trade-policy aspects;

 

Prevention and control of FMD in the United Kingdom in 2001

 

13.     The United Kingdom tackled FMD by means of a contingency plan pursuant to Article 5(2) of Directive 90/423/EEC; the plan had been approved by the Commission in 1993 and last amended in 2000, and complied with the criteria laid down in Decision 91/42/EEC. The plan was based on previous experience of FMD and on the assumption that the spread of the disease would remain localised, i.e. the number of outbreaks would not exceed ten. Directive 90/423/EEC, amending Directive 85/511/EEC, specifically requires that provision should be made for emergency vaccination ‘where an epizootic disease threatens to become extensive’ and that ‘this decision shall have particular regard to the degree of concentration of animals in certain regions and the need to protect special breeds’. However, the UK ‘Lessons Learned’ inquiry found ‘... no evidence that that the UK took heed of the 1999 European report guidelines in altering UK strategic policy. Contingency planning for vaccination was minimal.’ This was a major flaw in UK contingency planning and policy implementation, which should have been reviewed by the Commission and appropriate corrective action taken;

 

14.     In the United Kingdom, there were already 50 to 70 outbreaks at the time of confirmation of FMD, and subsequently 12 epidemics (or mini-epidemics) occurred. Therefore the scale of the 2001 crisis far exceeded the presumed scale on which the national contingency plan and regional contingency plans were based. Yet in the light of previous experience and the foreseeable risk, it would have been disproportionate to gear the FMD contingency plan and the associated human and material resources to such a large scale. However, in retrospect the contingency plan ought to have included a scenario for a serious and extensive outbreak, including a ‘worst-case’ scenario;

 

15.   However, contingency plans and the logistical and staffing preparations for an outbreak of FMD or other notifiable exotic animal diseases in the United Kingdom were suffering from considerable shortcomings, according to a report of February 1999 commissioned by the State Veterinary Service (Drummond Report). Hardly anything had been done to implement this report’s recommendations for remedying the shortcomings before the crisis arose, even though in July 2000 the head of the State Veterinary Service expressed extreme concern about the state of preparations, particularly with regard to slaughter, disposal of animal carcasses, staff training and the availability of up-to-date contingency plans;

 

16.     An export ban was imposed on the UK immediately, while the UK Government delayed from 20 February 2001 (when the first case was confirmed) until 23 February 2001 before banning the movements of FMD-susceptible animals on a nationwide basis and closing livestock markets. This delay caused a considerable increase in the number of cases. In retrospect, an immediate nationwide ban on movements of FMD-susceptible animals would have been appropriate when the first case of FMD was detected in the United Kingdom, but large sections of the population would have considered this disproportionate at the time;

 

17.     The lack of an effective system of identifying and tracing rapidly the transport routes taken by sheep, the species most affected by the epidemic, and the inadequacy of the checks carried out by dealers and at markets severely hampered efforts to control the disease;

 

18.     The structures and organisation of the public service (government and administrative bodies) in the UK are very complex. The handling of the epidemic was characterised by a lack of coordination between veterinary and policy staff within the State Veterinary Service and between the regions and the centre. This led to a number of difficulties in defining and implementing the government's control strategy. A clear demarcation of powers was lacking;

 

19.     The number of full-time State veterinary staff in the UK has been reduced by about half in the past 20 years, although according to the UK Government the number of official vets normally working in the field has changed little. Moreover, this considerable cut in the number of staff employed by the State Veterinary Service has been accompanied by the closure of local veterinary centres and a concentration on regional centres, which has inevitably resulted in a loss of knowledge of local conditions. Overall, this has weakened the capacity for responding to the crisis, particularly as the number of livestock has increased significantly over the same period. At the beginning of the epidemic, there were not enough staff to cope with the rapidly growing number of infected farms and carry out the requisite inspection and eradication measures. As a consequence large numbers of vets had to be recruited rapidly from overseas to help combat the epidemic. No provision had been made for an international assistance plan. Many offers of help from veterinary surgeons in the UK, both with and without previous experience of FMD, were ignored though hundreds of foreign vets were deployed Their help was invaluable, although in some cases it may have caused uncertainty among farmers partly on account of language problems;

 

20.     The UK Government’s information policy was inadequate, both before and during the crisis. The content of the contingency plan was not known to the public at the beginning of the outbreak or for some time during it (it was not placed on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture until August 2001). At the beginning of the outbreak the Ulster Farmers’ Union did not even know that a contingency plan existed;

 

21.     The provision of information from State sources to local bodies and the farmers affected was poor, and advice from the various government departments was repeatedly altered, inconsistent or even contradictory. Moreover, the National Farmers' Union reported that MAFF officials frequently contacted the NFU's own helpline to seek advice as they were unable to obtain the information required from within MAFF itself;

 

22.     Many of the problems associated with the management of the outbreak arose from bureaucratic and formalistic procedures for obtaining compensation, recurrent delays in decision-making and the implementation of measures by the authorities, particularly in connection with the disposal of animal carcasses, the lack of effective contingency plans, inadequately informed veterinary staff, staff shortages at the locally established disease control units, and violations of animal welfare legislation during culls and in connection with the movement ban. However, it is recognised that compensation claims must be administered in a fair and considered way in order to prevent fraud. In individual cases, it was also reported that farmers who were affected had been intimidated and pressurised in connection with the culls. These shortcomings and the sometimes inadequate information policy caused considerable stress among those concerned, many of whom were still suffering psychologically as a result months after the crisis;

 

23.     On the other hand, the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office observed in March 2001 that the UK’s organisational response to the FMD outbreak was effective and efficient, at both national and local level, and the speed with which the central and local crisis centres were set up was impressive. The selfless commitment of the staff detailed to tackle the crisis was also singled out for comment. The FVO also remarked, however, that the extent of the epidemic quickly outstripped the resources available to control the disease;

 

24.     Despite the rapid spread of the disease in the first few weeks, large parts of the country remained free of the disease and in some parts, such as Kent, the disease was successfully eradicated;

 

25.     From late March onwards, the UK Government based its decisions on epidemiological models. The mode of transmission of the virus did not play any part in the models, according to statements by the head of the UK Government's scientific advisory group. The appropriateness of the unvalidated models used to plot the course of the epidemic remains scientifically controversial and in particular is challenged by veterinary scientists with FMD expertise. The models used ultimately resulted in the proposal at the end of March 2001 for the novel 24/48 hours contiguous culls (i.e. slaughtering susceptible animals at infected farms within 24 hours of the infection's being diagnosed and slaughtering susceptible animals at neighbouring farms within 48 hours) - a strategy which was fraught with inevitable lax biosecurity and documented infringements of animal welfare law;

 

26.     The epidemic appeared to be running out of control until it peaked near the end of March 2001. At this point the 24/48 hours contiguous cull strategy began to be implemented, staff resources were augmented and the army was deployed to overcome logistical problems in disposing of animal carcasses. It remains controversial and doubtful whether the 24/48 hours contiguous cull strategy was really responsible for curbing the epidemic (halting the increase in the number of cases and bringing about a decrease); apart from any other consideration, in many cases it proved impossible to carry out the culls on neighbouring farms within 48 hours.

 

27.     The deployment of the army, particularly to provide logistical support in disposing of animal carcasses, took place only at a relatively late stage, when the epidemic was already out of control and, in some cases, dead animals had been lying about on the affected farms for days. With hindsight, earlier deployment of the army would have reduced the backlog in the disposal of carcasses and the distress experienced by farmers and rural communities;

 

28.     The disease control measures in the UK were evidently more successful in Scotland (County of Dumfries and Galloway) than in other areas, because lines of communication were shorter and the approach adopted was one of integrated contingency planning (political decisions and logistic control were located primarily at regional level, although, in accordance with special agreements within the State, the State Veterinary Service also performed in Scotland the duties for which they provided). In addition, since the Lockerbie air disaster, special procedures had been developed for responding to crises. However, the total number of cases of FMD was in any case smaller in Scotland and animal movements were generally southbound;

 

29.     The large number of animals culled caused enormous problems in the disposal of animal carcasses, which could have been reduced by means of vaccinations on neighbouring farms or within a certain radius of infected farms;

 

30.     The UK Government’s decision to bury animal carcasses in mass burial sites or burn them on pyres as part of the mass culls was, in most cases, taken without adequate consultation of local institutions. Because of this, there were breaches of human and environmental health guidelines resulting from emissions and groundwater pollution. This placed a very heavy burden on the populations of the areas concerned, and television pictures of the burning pyres and mass burials shocked the public on animal welfare grounds and had a catastrophic impact on tourism in those areas. Monitoring of the environmental impact of these methods of disposal at the locations where they were employed was not carried out to provide any conclusive results at the time, although it is recognised that carcinogens were released into the atmosphere from the burning of animal carcasses on pyres;

 

31.     In a number of cases, culling of livestock involved violations of animal welfare legislation because of the pressure of time to which it gave rise. It was reported that unnecessary pain and suffering had been inflicted on animals because of the inexpert performance of staff, some of whom were not adequately trained. This in turn caused much unnecessary suffering on the part of many farmers and their families. Member States should reflect on the necessary training of personnel in advance of an epidemic;

 

32.     The mass culls and movement of carcasses to mass burial or incineration sites also gave rise to a risk of accidental further transmission of the virus via the staff deployed or their equipment and on account of the transport of slaughtered animal carcasses through uninfected areas. There is anecdotal evidence that such transmission actually occurred, but no official monitoring was undertaken at the time;

 

33.     The 3 km cull ordered in Cumbria and in Dumfries and Galloway, which entailed culling sheep, pigs and goats within a 3 km radius of an infected farm, may not have had a basis in domestic law, irrespective of the question of the practicability and proportionality of this measure. However, only the courts can definitively determine whether the 3 km cull was legal. In the UK the courts have in two cases determined that the cull was in fact legal. It is not apparent that this is either explicitly permitted or explicitly prohibited at European level;

 

34.     In Cumbria, from the end of March/beginning of April 2001, vaccinating cattle was an option recommended by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the government and the Chief Veterinary Officer on condition that certain criteria were complied with, including that of support from farmers. The government did not consider this option practicable, because it did not enjoy sufficient support from the National Farmers’ Union or the food trade (some farmers’ opposition to vaccinations was evidently due to the mistaken belief that there was no EU compensation available for the possible loss of value of vaccinated animals). Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions affecting the wellbeing of whole regions in the management of the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001. This is all the more worrying because of unfounded and unsubstantiated fears in the food trade that consumers would not accept products from vaccinated livestock It is important that an agreement and understanding is reached in the near future to record that meat and milk from vaccinated animals are safe for human consumption, to avoid this kind of debate recurring in a future outbreak;

 

Control of FMD in the Netherlands

 

35.   Apparently, the foot-and-mouth disease virus was introduced to the Netherlands via a transport of Irish calves, which were exposed to the virus present on sheep from the United Kingdom during an obligatory rest period in an official staging post for animal transport in Mayenne, France;

 

36.     The organisation of measures to control FMD in the Netherlands was based on experience of the swine fever crisis. The FMD contingency plan clearly assigned responsibilities and laid down procedures, with decisions being taken centrally and implemented regionally; local and regional expertise received too little recognition;

 

37.   However, the decision to set up a regional crisis centre was taken only when the first outbreak occurred; it took several days to build up the regional organisation – staff and bodies – so that valuable time was lost before the implementing organisation was completely operational and effective in carrying out the veterinary measures and developing a network of contacts with other parties concerned in the region;

 

38.     The Netherlands' strategy was initially one of eradicating the FMD virus as quickly as possible in order to regain ‘FMD-free without vaccination’ status; the government accepted as a necessary evil the resultant strong social and psychological impact on rural communities. But as the rising level of slaughter threatened to overwhelm available capacity for the disposal of carcasses, permission for emergency vaccination-to-live was obtained and implemented. Only after the vaccination programme had been completed and the disease eliminated did the government switch instead to slaughter of the vaccinated animals in order for exports to resume after three months’ instead of twelve months’ delay under IOE rules;

 

39.     The mass culls caused considerable public indignation in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the EU; farmers, especially dairy farmers, cattle raisers, holders and raisers of sheep and goats and smallholders who kept and bred animals as a hobby, as well as most veterinarians and the non-agricultural rural business sector and society at large, which was increasingly organised in new special interest organisations, argued in favour of emergency or prophylactic vaccination, after which the animals could stay alive, instead of culls; the FMD crisis in the Netherlands and the public outcry received very considerable media coverage;

 

40.     At times, there was insufficient capacity to carry out the measures, which led to unwanted changes in the implementation plans;

 

41.     In the Netherlands too, one important shortcoming in the FMD control measures was the national authorities’ inadequate coordination and information policy and the lack of arrangements to enable the farmers concerned to contact the State agencies responsible;

 

42.     A culling policy was applied during the first days of the crisis in the Netherlands. Fairly quickly the ‘ring vaccination’ concept, after authorisation by the Commission, was introduced to bring the epidemic under control. All livestock within the vaccination ring were ultimately slaughtered in order for exports to resume at an early stage. The decision to cull the vaccinated livestock was taken after consultation and approval by farmers' organisations. In the end, around 10 000 animals were slaughtered per infected farm in the Netherlands, as against 2 000 in the UK, although this was also due to the particularly high stocking density in the Netherlands and to the fact that, in the area around Oene, vaccination was planned and authorised for a wide radius (25 km) as an emergency-vaccination measure with the aim of ensuring that the vaccinated animals could continue to be used as normal;

 

43.     In some cases, the Netherlands rules on the reduction of compensation for farmers resulted in extreme reductions, which were not felt to be justified; the systems of compensation and deductions from it in the event of livestock epidemics vary so widely within the EU as to give rise to a danger of distortion of competition;

 

Experience in France

 

44.   Immediately after the first outbreak in the UK was reported, the French authorities activated the FMD contingency plan at national and regional level and set up crisis staffs, involving the relevant professional organisations;

 

45.     In France too, FMD was combated by means of preventive culls combined with serological tests and a temporary ban on the movement of susceptible livestock, without resorting to vaccination. Following the two FMD outbreaks in France, susceptible animals were slaughtered within a 3 km radius of the farms concerned;

 

46.   Measures to control FMD in France in 2001 were efficient and successful, although here too it was recognised that the identification and registration of sheep needed to be improved. It may be noted that the economic and social consequences did not play any significant role in the strategy for controlling FMD in France either. The issue of vaccination did not arise in France because there were so few outbreaks of the disease;

 

47.     The issue of unequal compensation for loss and damage suffered has also arisen in France.

 

Experience in Ireland

 

48.     The authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland were forewarned by the outbreaks in Great Britain and were able to prepare themselves very well for the outbreak of FMD. Cooperation and coordination between Ireland and Northern Ireland went smoothly, and it was largely thanks to this that the FMD outbreaks remained very limited in the region. The measures were effective and efficient;

 

49.     The issue of vaccination did not arise, because there were so few outbreaks in Ireland and Northern Ireland;

 

Experience in Greece

 

50.     In Greece, outbreaks of FMD were always sporadic, that is to say the disease is not endemic. Most cases occurred in the vicinity of Greece's eastern borders (Evros, Mytilini, Chios, Samos, the Dodecanese) since the disease is endemic in Turkey whereas it has not been reported in Greece's other neighbouring countries. Previously, it was believed that the disease entered Greece through illegal trade in live animals. Since the epidemics of 1994 and 1996 and the culling of several thousand animals, stock farmers in Greece have become more aware and maintain that there are no longer any illegal imports of animals from Turkey;

 

51.     The last outbreak of the disease, which occurred in the summer of 2000 in Evros, was attributed to animals in the Greek border regions encountering Turkish animals in the River Evros, the waters of which were low owing to the protracted drought. It is possible therefore that the herds were in contact while grazing and watering. Since the virus is highly infectious and extremely communicable, it was easily transmitted. The origin of the viral strain, which was isolated, was established by laboratory testing with PCR. It was established that the strain was of the Asia 1 serotype similar to that found on the far bank of the River Evros;

 

52.     During the epidemic in the summer of 2000, there were 12 outbreaks of the disease in Evros. Approximately 8 000 animals (5 400 cattle, 2 300 goats and sheep, 300 pigs) were culled and buried at an estimated cost of EUR 750 000. This figure includes not only compensation but also the cost of supervising decontamination procedures, administrative and other expenditure. The social disruption was minimal and the media reaction was low-key, as was that of the animal welfare organisations;

 

The role of the Commission in controlling FMD

 

53.     The Commission responded to the crisis immediately and took the necessary decisions. In the course of the crisis, it promptly adapted and documented its decisions on the basis of the opinions of the Standing Veterinary Committee in the light of events. No shortcomings have been identified in the Commission’s management of the crisis. The high quality of the Commission’s work in controlling the crisis has also been expressly stressed by the national veterinary authorities of Member States concerned;

 

54.   However, the Commission failed to review the Member States’ contingency plans within an appropriate period following the introduction of the ban on prophylactic vaccination in 1992. At the time of the 2001 crisis – apart from the assessments in connection with the approval of the contingency plans – it had still not reviewed the implementation either of the UK’s contingency plan or of those of the Netherlands or France;

 

Control of FMD in third countries

 

55.   Systematic preventive vaccination is practised in many countries where FMD is endemic. In recent years, emergency vaccinations in conjunction with targeted culling have rapidly eradicated the disease in Albania (1996), Korea and South Africa (2000) and Uruguay (2001);

 

56.     The way in which Uruguay tackled FMD in 2001 demonstrates the considerable positive aspects of emergency vaccination without subsequent slaughter in the event of a widespread outbreak, although local conditions there are not comparable to those in the EU. Thanks to mass vaccination of 10 million cattle, accompanied by movement restrictions, the disease was eradicated within 15 weeks. Only just under 7 000 animals were slaughtered. The social impact was limited and the cost of eradicating the disease (vaccines, disinfection, compensation for farmers) totalled only USD 13.6 m;

 

The question of vaccination in connection with the future strategy to control FMD in the EU

 

57.     In the light of the experience in 2001, the question of whether and to what extent livestock ought to be vaccinated in the event of an FMD outbreak cannot be definitely resolved in advance for all eventualities. Because of current implications for international trade, the decision on vaccination is in any case not a scientific matter but a political one and therefore depends on the circumstances and interests which are taken into account and the priority objectives adopted for the purpose of controlling the epidemic. However, such a decision must always be grounded on solid scientific evidence and experience, as well as taking into account the specific circumstances of an epidemic. Many objections to vaccination could be removed by sensible debate with clear agreements being reached by interested parties before any future outbreak. Despite recent changes to IOE rules, the three-month 'trading penalty' that remains against vaccination should, in the view of many authorities, be removed by future resolution of the IOE so that slaughter and vaccination are treated equally. This change will enable decisions to be taken on the proper basis of disease control rather than economic and political considerations;

 

58.     Experts attending the hearings held by the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on FMD were not agreed amongst themselves as to the appropriateness of vaccinations to stem an outbreak or eradicate the disease, from the point of view, inter alia, of veterinary medicine or in the light of epidemiological considerations e.g. number of serotypes, speed of action, problems of distinguishing antibodies of infected animals. However, many of the experts stressed that, under certain conditions, emergency vaccination is a better way of controlling FMD than the ‘stamping out’ method. The issue of vaccination needs to be resolved in the context of the particular situation. It must also be seen in the light of the seriousness of the risk of future FMD outbreaks due to the particular control method adopted;

 

59.     Mass culling of livestock and the subsequent destruction of meat resulted in widespread public protests and can be ethically justified only by special socioeconomic grounds. Furthermore, some countries spent more money on disease control than they were able to save in terms of their lost export trade. Decisions must be taken in a transparent manner: otherwise it will be difficult to persuade those sections of the population who suffer most from a non-vaccination policy to provide the necessary cooperation during a future FMD outbreak. It has become clear from the 2001 epidemic that mass culling on the scale seen in the UK and the Netherlands will not be publicly acceptable again and that alternative control strategies are therefore essential;

 

60.     The disease-control objective (motivated by trade considerations) of eradicating the disease as quickly as possible while culling the minimum number of animals should not entail an absolute non-vaccination policy, and must always be weighed against other politically relevant objectives such as avoiding excessive economic losses in upstream and downstream sectors of food production and in other sectors of the economy and avoiding traumatic psychological and social consequences in the regions concerned;

 

61.     The vaccines currently available make it possible – at least on a herd by herd basis – to distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals. It is true that the problem of transmission of FMD by carrier animals (animals in which the virus can under certain circumstances still be detected more than 28 days after infection but which may possibly not be producing any antibodies to non-structural proteins or displaying clinical symptoms) still remains in principle and is not quantifiable so far. However, many experts consider the risk of transmission of FMD by carrier animals to be extremely slight;

 

62.     The international recognition of serological tests to demonstrate the presence of antibodies to 3ABC or other non-structural proteins – at least on a herd by herd basis – for the purposes of regaining ‘FMD-free’ status more rapidly after emergency vaccination is a vital element in decision-making on vaccination in the event of an outbreak of FMD;

 

63.     As early as March 1999, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare had already described the options of vaccinating and testing together with only three months of trade restriction as a strategy for the future;

 

64.     The adverse impact of vaccination on exports of live animals and animal products has been considerably reduced following the change in the IOE’s Animal Health Code in May 2002 (reduction of the period before ‘FMD-free’ status can be regained to six months in the event of emergency vaccination without subsequent culling). This means, however, that compared to a stamping-out policy after which such status can be regained after three months, current recommendations still create a commercial disincentive to the introduction of a vaccinate-to-live policy;

 

65.     In future, therefore, when an outbreak occurs, emergency vaccination with the aim of allowing animals to live for normal further use should no longer be regarded as a last resort for controlling FMD but must be considered as a first-choice option from the outset. In the case of infected farms and known dangerous contacts slaughter is the immediate requirement. A transparent list of criteria should be applied in order to assess the likely consequences of each control strategy. Staff and equipment for the effective implementation of a vaccination strategy should be made available quickly throughout the EU;

 

66.     The list of criteria for emergency vaccination in the event of an outbreak of FMD which the Commission may compile in connection with a proposal for new rules on the control of FMD would be incomplete if it ignored the economic, psychological and social impact of the decision in the areas concerned. Such effects must be taken into account in deciding how to control FMD. Measures to tackle FMD should not only – as on previous occasions – be regarded as an operation to police the epidemic with the aim of safeguarding livestock holdings or particular commercial interests but should also have regard for changes in people’s way of life and in attitudes towards the environment and animal welfare and increased mobility, combined with a cost-benefit analysis of any given control strategy;

 

67.     In the case of rare animals in zoos or game parks and scientifically valuable animals at research centres, culls should be avoided as a general rule and, if the spread of the virus cannot be prevented in any other way, the animals should be vaccinated;

 

68.   Emergency vaccinations must always be carried out in those cases in which they make it possible to avoid mass burial or burning on pyres, which are dangerous to the environment and health, and the risk of further spread of the virus from the vaccinated animals is relatively small;

 

69.     The division of a country into FMD-free and FMD-infected zones ought in future to play an essential part in the event of a major outbreak, inter alia in deciding the control strategy. If animals are vaccinated, such a division should always be carried out;

 

70.     A return to systematic prophylactic vaccination against FMD is not yet at this stage an option to aspire to, particularly because there are seven different serotypes, which cannot be tackled by a single vaccination, and 80 known subtypes exist within them, which likewise cannot be fully covered by a vaccination. Only by chance, therefore, could the right vaccine be chosen. Moreover, the impact on trade would still at this stage be very serious, not only because under IOE recommendations vaccinated animals cannot be exported to countries which have the status of ‘FMD-free countries where vaccination is not practised’ but also because exports of other animal products derived from vaccinated animals to countries which are FMD-free and do not practise vaccination would in practice be substantially hampered;

 

Rules and controls on imports in the EU

 

71.     Full traceability of all animal products for human consumption should be guaranteed within the EU. This should include labelling of the country of origin on all foods and catering supplies;

 

72.     The rules on imports which are designed to prevent the entry of pathogens, particularly those on the IOE’s A list, are harmonised throughout the EU. In addition to veterinary inspections at the external borders, they entail a range of import restrictions on health grounds for animals and animal products and inspection and approval procedures for the countries from which the EU imports live animals or animal products.

 

73.     The EU does not import FMD-susceptible animals from third countries unless they have the status of ‘FMD-free countries where vaccination is not practised’. Imports of meat from countries which do not have this status are subject to special conditions (for example, beef must inter alia be deboned and matured). Contrary to assertions which have been made in public, these conditions are no less strict than those for exports of meat from an EU Member State where FMD has broken out to another Member State;

 

74.     In recent years, livestock epidemics in the EU have not been proven as caused by products which are imported regularly and checked in the process. The Food and Veterinary Office’s inspections of border control posts have however revealed serious shortcomings in import controls;

 

75.     The most serious source of the risk of entry of FMD is illegal imports of animal products from countries where FMD is endemic. Although it is virtually impossible to guarantee zero-risk of illegal imports, more can and must be done to check, identify and destroy illegal meat imports as part of a concerted strategy to prevent the disease entering the Union and to restore confidence in the food sector;

 

76.     Checks on imports of products of animal origin by tourists are far less strict at EU airports and other points of entry than they are for example in the USA, Australia or New Zealand. While the risk that FMD will be brought in by tourists or in food for consumption during travel is relatively slight, it is not negligible, bearing in mind that, for example, at Heathrow airport within a period of a few days in May 2000 illegally imported food with a total weight of 3100 kg was seized during checks on passengers’ baggage, including meat from exotic animals (‘bushmeat’) and various types of fish. At Dublin airport, around two tons of illegally imported animal products are found and confiscated every month;

 

Budgetary aspects

 

77.   According to the Commission, measures to control FMD are placing a considerable burden on the EU budget. In 2001, commitment appropriations for them totalled EUR 421 141 381 (EUR 2 700 000 for Ireland, EUR 3 300 000 for France, EUR 39 000 000 for the Netherlands and EUR 376 141 381 for the United Kingdom). In 2002, payments totalling EUR 400 000 000 were made in this connection (EUR 2 700 000 for Ireland, EUR 3 300 000 for France, EUR 39 000 000 for the Netherlands and EUR 355 000 000 for the United Kingdom). These figures include the advance payments decided upon in August 2001;

 

78.     Under Community law, compensation up to 60% is granted towards the costs of destruction of animals, milk and feed as well as disinfection, etc. in case of an outbreak of FMD. The other 40% of the costs are borne by the budgets of the Member States concerned (UK, Ireland, France and most other Member States) or by funds to which livestock farmers make contributions (the Netherlands, Germany, Flanders). For the 2001 outbreak the Dutch animal health fund, made up solely of contributions from farmers, completely covered the 40% of the compensated costs in the Netherlands;

 

79.     As animal diseases are unpredictable, there are in principle only two options for responding to them, using the EU budget. Either one does not make any special provision for an outbreak and, if an outbreak occurs, tries to find and use spare appropriations within the existing budget, or one obtains the requisite appropriations by means of a supplementary budget. This has been the practice to date, but it is desirable to create an ad hoc reserve in the budget, the amount of which would be determined in the light of the experience gained, the development of prophylaxes and risk assessments;

 

80.     The method of assessing the losses of farmers eligible for compensation also determines the size of the contribution to be made by the Community and should therefore be transparent and objective, assigning them their true value, and should not be influenced by chance fluctuations in market prices;

 

Compensation aspects

 

81.     It is unacceptable that only farmers in whose interest the non-vaccination policy is being pursued should receive compensation under Decision 90/424/EEC for livestock lost in an FMD outbreak while other farmers and those in other sectors of the economy – particularly tourism and sport – are compelled to foot the bill for their own losses arising from this policy. The rules on compensation need to be reviewed in this respect;

 

82.     The Commission should consider whether and to what extent national compulsory insurance schemes for the livestock farming sector might in future be supported through co-financing of expenditure on public support, or whether it is more appropriate to provide financial assistance to the Member State affected by the outbreak of a disease within the framework of an ad hoc decision.

 

83.     The practice adhered to in compensating farmers in the event of an FMD outbreak is unjust. It is not clear why only farmers whose animals have been culled should receive compensation, while none is paid to farmers who have been unable to market animals or animal products properly because of the movement ban. It is also desirable to take into account economic losses arising from these bans. The provisions of Decision 90/424/EEC concerning compensation payments by the EU should be amended accordingly;

 

84.   Compensation for losses arising from FMD should as a general rule cover less than 100% of the losses, in order to increase the incentive to comply with the necessary biosecurity rules on farms. Not more than 80% of losses eligible for compensation should be reimbursed from public funds. The system of compensation for losses arising from FMD must be decided at European level and apply to all Member States in order to avoid distortions of competition.

85.     The preconditions for compensation for losses due to animal diseases, particularly FMD, must be transparent, so that, in particular, the farmers concerned do not resist measures which are necessary in order to control disease because of misconceptions about the compensation which may be payable;

 

Other animal diseases

 

86.     In addition to FMD, livestock in the EU are threatened by other animal diseases, some of which are also dangerous to humans, such as TSE and avian influenza. From the economic point of view the diseases which currently present the greatest risk are FMD, classical swine fever, swine vesicular disease, Newcastle disease and avian influenza;

 

87.     Possibly as a result of global warming such diseases as bluetongue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, have recently appeared in temperate latitudes;

 

88.     Policy on vaccination against animal diseases which can cause serious economic damage and of the introduction of which there is a high risk is not standardised in the EU. The vaccines available – where they exist at all – sometimes afford only limited protection or, for economic reasons, are only used in emergency vaccination campaigns (as is the case with classical swine fever);

 

89.     In view of the intensification of world trade and global warming, a thorough analysis of the existing and likely future threats arising from the introduction of animal diseases into the EU which could cause major economic damage is urgently needed at European level;

 

II.      Calls on the Commission and the Member States, as appropriate, to adopt the following measures:

 

90.     Lasting success can be achieved in efforts to control FMD worldwide only if it proves possible, through close international cooperation, to curb the disease decisively in areas where it is still endemic. The Commission should therefore play an active part in developing a worldwide strategy to control FMD within the framework of the FAO, do more to assist the countries concerned in their efforts to control or eradicate FMD, particularly by making vaccines available and providing assistance with diagnostic tests in areas chronically affected by the disease based on the principle 'helping people help themselves', and seek to improve cooperation with regard to information (early warning systems);

 

91.     The EU has successfully worked in Turkey and Transcaucasia with the aim of creating a buffer zone preventing the spread of the disease to South-Eastern Europe. A sufficient budget needs to be secured for these actions both in these regions and other regions bordering the enlarging EU as well as for supporting the fight against other type A diseases in developing countries;

 

92.     In the accession negotiations, the Commission should ensure that, at the time of accession, the applicant countries’ border control posts at the future external borders of the EU are of the same standard as those of the present Member States. Member States, coordinated by the Commission, should extend cooperation with the applicant countries in the field of prevention and control of livestock diseases;

 

93.     Member States and the Community (through coordination with the existing vaccine banks) should keep sufficient stocks of vaccines/antigen material to be able to supply them quickly to countries bordering on the EU without difficulty if that becomes necessary. In order to implement any control strategy based on culling, vaccination or biosecurity, it is essential that Member States have personnel available rapidly to deliver the strategy;

 

94.     As members of the IOE, Member States should, in cooperation with the Commission, seek to ensure that IOE recommendations constantly keep pace with scientific progress in the development of vaccines and test procedures and that IOE procedures allow for rapid decision-making;

 

95.     The Commission and Member States are called upon to actively strive to bring the waiting period for regaining FMD-free status after application of a strategy of vaccination without subsequent slaughter of the vaccinated animals into line with the period used when a slaughter policy is applied, in other words, three months in both cases. In this connection, however, account should be taken of the need for further validation and improvement of the tests for identifying infected animals in a vaccinated animal population;

 

96.     As a major FMD outbreak within the EU internal market can very quickly assume international proportions, the interests of countries bordering on a Member State where FMD has broken out and those of the Community as a whole must be taken into account. The Community should be in a position to play an essential role in the determination of the strategy for controlling FMD itself if this is required in order to protect vital interests of Member States threatened by FMD or of the Community. Member States should approve Commission proposals to this end;

 

Prevention, contingency plans and methods of controlling animal diseases

 

97.     On the basis of an analysis of the existing and likely future threats arising from the introduction of animal diseases into the EU which could cause major economic damage and social disruption, the Commission should review its overall strategy for preventing and controlling livestock diseases in the EU. The preparation of such a strategy review should also address the extent to which the increasing globalisation of the food trade plays a part in the increasing number, and spread, of animal disease outbreaks, and identify appropriate measures to counteract this process – e.g. inter alia, the reduced movement of meat and livestock within and between Member States, and the provision of more local abattoirs;

 

98.     Legally-enforceable strict biosecurity measures on holdings in or close to infected areas, as evidenced in parts of the UK during the final phase of the 2001 FMD crisis (known as "blue box" measures or Restricted Infected Areas), can play a positive role in reducing the spread of the disease; such measures should become an integral part of any future FMD strategy and linked to any eventual compensation entitlements;

 

99.     Member States should gear their animal disease monitoring systems to ensuring that outbreaks are detected at an early stage. If there is a strong suspicion of an outbreak of a contagious animal disease (IOE list A) in the future, it is necessary to order an immediate and complete nationwide ban on all transport of susceptible animals, thus minimising the chances of spreading the disease. The diagnosis of an animal disease should be performed using a fixed protocol and should be transparent to all concerned.

 

100.   Member States should organise regular inspections of farms in order to check that farmers know and are applying the general rules on health and biosecurity;

 

101.   Member States should consider on the basis of risk analyses to what extent restrictions on the transport of livestock should be introduced even at times when no outbreak of disease has occurred, especially if there is a particular risk that a disease may break out, for example when it has already done so in another Member State. The Commission should, as a matter of urgency, give particular consideration to rest periods between journeys made by dealer-owned livestock, and investigate measures to discourage multiple journeys without genuine need;

 

102.   Member States should review their contingency plans in the light of experience of the FMD crisis in 2001 – particularly with reference to the staff available for deployment, equipment and laboratory capacity – and should test them regularly;

 

103.   The contingency plans must strive to ensure that regions proven to be FMD free but falling within countries affected by FMD during an outbreak can be recognised as such;

 

104.   Contingency plans should be based on risk analysis and provide for various scenarios so that even major outbreaks can be kept under control. They must take account of disposal capacity to ensure that sufficient capacity exists to dispose of animal carcasses. The plans must include pre-identified sites which take account of public health, food safety, social and environmental concerns. Member States should consider whether disposal resources may be shared;

 

105.   Contingency plans should be so designed that emergency vaccinations can be carried out as a control measure of first choice from the beginning of an outbreak;

 

106.   The criteria for emergency vaccination should be defined as precisely as possible without unduly restricting the discretion which the authorities must enjoy when controlling epidemics. The plans should involve not only agriculture but also small-scale livestock owners, the food trade and other relevant sectors of the economy, local authorities and consumers' organisations and owners of zoos and game parks;

 

107.   Member States, in cooperation with the Commission, should establish compatible, networkable, electronic animal epidemic information systems containing and linking all information which is of relevance for the effective management of livestock epidemics, into which relevant information from the operatives on the ground (especially vets) can be input in real time and in coordination with the responsible authorities in the event of an outbreak;

 

108.   Member States should provide an integrated crisis management system and short lines of communication to the bodies involved and, in case of doubt and provided that this does not jeopardise the implementation of national strategies, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, assign decision-making powers to local or regional level. When drafting contingency plans, provision should be made upstream for adjusting the measures to be taken in the light of the risks which arise, and it should be decided what channels will be used to inform the public. Provision must be made for the welfare consequences for livestock of animal movement restrictions. Furthermore, clear contractual terms need to be established with the operators engaged in the management of an animal disease outbreak to prevent them from exploiting an emergency for commercial gain and to ensure that they comply with standard financial control practice;

 

109.   Member States' contingency plans must ensure that an open information policy for affected farmers, people in the crisis areas and the population at large is in place and provide for psychological support systems for affected farmers and smallholders where necessary;

 

110.   Member States should coordinate their contingency plans, particularly as regards regions near borders. The Commission should play a coordinating and facilitating role in this connection;

 

111.   The establishment of continuous contact, upstream and downstream, between all the stakeholders concerned (public and local authorities, farmers, animal welfare organisations and members of the public) should be included in the drafting of contingency plans and should receive particular attention in the Commission’s evaluations thereof;

 

112.   Agreement must be reached as quickly as possible on a pre-defined EU-wide list of relevant animal product categories which are subject to FMD trade restrictions;

 

113.   The Commission should examine the contingency plan as well as the state of readiness of the veterinary services of each Member State at least once every three years on the spot;

 

114.   Member States should keep the principles of their contingency plans accessible by Internet at all times;

 

115.   Member States are called upon to immediately halt and reverse the trend towards cutting the number of staff in public veterinary services and to permanently provide sufficient veterinary staff to prevent and control livestock diseases so that even major epidemics do not get out of control;

 

116.   Member States should regularly carry out training measures and crisis exercises to control epidemics, involving farmers and vets, including internationally in cooperation with neighbouring Member States. Serious consideration should be given to setting up an EU-wide veterinary reserve of qualified vets available for rapid deployment. The availability of veterinary resources is critical to the success or failure of any control strategy. Contingency planning should include the ability to call on vets in the private sector at short notice;

 

117.   Member States should increase the provision of information to the public concerning livestock diseases and their impact on human health;

 

118.   The Commission should as quickly as possible submit a proposal for amending Directive 92/102/EC so as to improve the identification of pigs, sheep and goats. As a matter of priority, the Commission should look to electronic identification as a durable and multi-faceted means of delivering rapid, efficient and infallible traceability of livestock;

 

119.   Member States should issue guidelines comprising elementary precautions to prevent animal diseases which must be complied with on farms where livestock are kept. Where breaches are repeatedly found to have occurred, it should be possible to ban those responsible from livestock farming;

 

Import controls

 

120.   Member States should appropriately increase the number of staff performing inspections at airports in order to reduce the risk of livestock diseases being carried by means of illegal meat imports or imports of products of animal origin in the luggage of air passengers, and make greater use of sniffer dogs to detect these products. Corresponding measures and increased vigilance should apply to all entry points into the EU;

 

121.   The Community should as soon as possible revoke the authorisation pursuant to Directive 72/462/EEC for travellers to import small quantities of meat intended for their personal consumption as part of their personal baggage. Failure to comply with the ban on this should be punished by means of fines sufficiently substantial to be effective;

 

122.   Member States’ inspection measures at the external borders of the EU to prevent imports of susceptible animals and of products derived from them from countries at risk of FMD and when there are FMD outbreaks in neighbouring countries should be uniform. A full review of EU legislation and controls on the importation of animals and animal products should be carried out to identify shortcomings in current practice. In addition, the EU should not ignore the risks posed by diseases in plants. Consequently, such a review should extend to the controls on plants and plant products. Inspection measures should be equally stringent with respect to the importation of plants and plant products, and should also be reviewed and tightened as a priority;

 

123.   The Commission must as a matter of urgency review its policy with a view to introducing, as is the case in the United States, a ban on imports of meat and products of animal origin from third countries where FMD and other infectious animal diseases are endemic;

 

124.   Member States should strictly apply the EU harmonised system for imports of ungulates and ensure that imports come only from third countries listed as safe and only if accompanied by the required animal health certificates. Products of animal origin should come only from approved producers and imports should only be possible via special, properly equipped veterinary border control posts. In the event of breaches of import regulations in the food trade, Member States should impose deterrent penalties, which should be as identical as possible;

 

125.   The Commission should without delay take measures to improve the existing system for monitoring the movement of live animals within the EU (Animo system). In addition, the system for the monitoring of imports into the EU (Shift system) should be introduced quickly;

 

126.   The Commission should as soon as possible submit a proposal for the amendment of Directive 97/78/EC (laying down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries) with reference to fields which are not at present completely under control, namely the entry of products destined for free warehouses or to supply ships, particularly their conditions of entry. Accordingly, the entry of products destined for free warehouses or to supply ships which do not come from countries authorised to export to the European Union should be banned;

 

Research and development

 

127.   The Commission should immediately designate a Community reference laboratory for vesicular virus diseases, which should maintain contact with the officially designated national laboratories, assist them and be in a position to make optimal methods of diagnosis of vesicular virus diseases of animals available, perform experiments and field trials relevant to FMD and provide information and further-training programmes;

 

128.   Pen-side tests that could be used by veterinarians in the field urgently need to be internationally validated and further developed so that they are sufficiently cheap and robust for regular use. When developed, they should be linked electronically to a central database that would hold all the results in the event of an outbreak;

 

129.   The Commission and Member States should provide more funding and coordination for research into livestock diseases which figure in the IOE’s A list and occur or are likely to occur in the EU, with the aim of facilitating systematic vaccination. In the case of FMD, the priorities should be as follows:

 

        to improve vaccines with the aim of developing a vaccine which needs to be administered only once and which covers as many serotypes and subtypes as possible, builds up protection very quickly and blocks transmission of the virus in order to exclude carrier status,

 

        to improve tests with the aim of reliably distinguishing between vaccinated animals and animals which are both vaccinated and infected and detecting FMD earlier than hitherto after an infection,

 

     mathematical models which will improve prediction of the impact of the various control strategies, including vaccination;

 

Compensation

 

130.   The Commission should submit a proposal to amend Council Decision 90/424/EEC so as, in general, to permit the Community to contribute to compensation payments for losses arising from FMD control measures only if the Member State concerned has transposed all relevant directives on FMD before the outbreak and the Member State’s preparations for a possible FMD outbreak (contingency plan, staffing, equipment and infrastructure) were adequate. Compensation should also be conditional on the recipient’s making an appropriate contribution by means of premiums for relevant insurance or in some other way;

 

131.   The Commission and Member States should investigate to what extent the existing system of compensation payments unduly influences the control of FMD; in particular, the unjust system whereby compensation is paid only to one group of victims (farmers whose livestock is culled) should be overhauled.

 

132.   In the Netherlands it should be reviewed whether the compensation system could potentially be dissociated from the penalties for non-compliance with biosecurity conditions, particularly since Dutch farmers, unlike those in some other Member States, in any case meet the cost of part of the losses themselves through the payment of contributions to the emergency fund;

 

133.   The Court of Auditors should investigate the use of EU funds for compensation of FMD‑related costs;

 

Miscellaneous

 

134.   Equines are not susceptible to the FMD virus, but they may still be carriers. To reduce any risk of indirect spread of the virus, stringent hygiene precautions are essential and all unnecessary movements should be avoided. Whenever horses are transported this should only be in thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, dedicated equine transport;

 

135.   The Commission should draw up a protocol, based on risk analysis, on the movement of non-susceptible animals, e.g. equines, in the event of an FMD outbreak;

 

136.   The Commission is called upon, on the basis both of the experience of 2001 and of new scientific information, to draw up within one year a cost-benefit analysis of prophylactic vaccination, which was successfully employed by a number of Member States before 1992. This study should include an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages in the fields of international trade, public opinion and marketing possibilities within the EU;

 

137.   In addition, the Commission should commission a study (cost-benefit analysis) of strategies for controlling FMD outbreaks (emergency vaccinations/stamping out), taking account of both the economic and non-economic impact in the areas concerned and at national and EU level;

 

138.   Member States should ensure by means of legislation and organisational measures that in the event of vaccination, products derived from animals vaccinated against FMD can be marketed throughout the EU, provided that there are no objections to this on grounds of disease control. Major food businesses and consumers’ organisations should be involved in the planning and any public fears allayed by logical explanation;

 

139.   Member States are called upon to transpose properly Directive 91/628/EEC (as amended by Directive 95/29/EC) on the protection of animals during transport; furthermore the Commission is called upon to submit a new legislative proposal in this field, in accordance with its resolution of 13 November 2001 on the protection of animals during transport[17];

 

140.   Member States should without delay start implementing the provisions banning the use of catering waste as feed as referred to in the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2002 laying down health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption (Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002).

 

141.   The Commission should submit to Parliament and the Council legislative proposals to improve standards of biosecurity in animal welfare so as to minimise the risks of spreading contagious diseases through the transport of live animals (taking account of staging posts). Consideration should be given to limiting animal movements and promoting slaughter close to the production of the animals;

 

142.   The Commission should submit to Parliament and the Council an evaluation report as to whether the FVO has the right staff and infrastructure to enable it to carry out its duties effectively in the long term. In the context of enlargement, the Commission should ensure that the extra staff and resources necessary are provided so as to enable the FVO to continue delivering the same level of inspections and monitoring;

 

143.   In view of the risks arising from animal diseases, Member States should examine the options regarding insurance systems for the livestock farming sector which not only cover direct losses but also pay compensation for consequential damage such as losses due to movement bans and entail appropriate contributions from the insured in order to provide an incentive for good farming practice;

 

144.   The Commission should publish a communication laying out various possibilities for an insurance scheme or guarantee fund covering the part of the costs for FMD and other livestock diseases borne by the EU budget. This communication should provide a cost-benefit analysis of such schemes and recommendations on, for example, a private insurance scheme with re-insurance or guarantees from the European Communities, or an EU Animal Health Fund to be financed, up to a certain ceiling, by contributions from all livestock farmers; this would provide greater European budgetary stability. The communication should also include recommendations on the introduction of such schemes for non-direct costs of livestock disease epidemics in both the agricultural and the non-agricultural sector;

 

145.   The Commission should evaluate the availability of veterinary resources, particularly in remote regions of the Union, and advise on measures required to be taken by Member States. With the increase in extensification and the value of livestock set at world market prices, many veterinary practices in remote areas will be unviable in the absence of European or State support. The consequences of a lack of veterinary practitioner resources were obvious during the FMD outbreak in the UK. This leads to poor surveillance for exotic diseases and emerging diseases. There is also a major animal welfare issue at stake;

 

146.   The Commission should quickly submit a proposal for Community measures to control FMD, taking account of the conclusions of this resolution;

 

 

o

o    o

 

 

III.     Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Court of Auditors, the countries which have applied for accession to the European Union, the International Office of Epizootics and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO);

 

 

 



[1]      OJ C 271 E, 7.11.2002, p. 51.

[2]      OJ C 21 E, 24.1.2002, p. 339.

[3]      OJ C 72 E, 21.3.2002, p. 342.

[4]      http://www.fmd-lessonslearned.org.uk/.

[5]      http://www.nao.gov.uk/publications/nao_reports/01-02/0101939.pdf.

[6]      http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/inquiry.

[7]      http://www.ma.hw.ac.uk/RSE/enquiries/footandmouth/EVIDEN18.PDF.

[8]      http://www.ma.hw.ac.uk/RSE/enquiries/footandmouth/fm_mw.pdf.

[9]      http://www.footandmouth.wales.gov.uk/scripts/viewnews.asp?NewsID=606.

[10]      http://www.wlga.gov.uk/footandmouth/0203-foot&mouthreport.pdf.

[11]      http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/vg/fmd_maps/fmdreport2002.pdf.

[12]      http://www.gloscc.gov.uk/pubserv/gcc/foot&mouth2001/contents.htm.

[13]      http://www.devon.gov.uk/fminquiry/finalreport.

[14]      http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/news/footandmouth/inquiry/f&m_inquiry_report_preface.pdf.

[15]      http://www.minlnv.nl/infomart/parlemnt/2002/par02080b.pdf.

[16]      http://www.agro.nl/innovatienetwerk/doc/Veerkracht.pdf.

[17]     OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p. 149.