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See audit in full (pdf) Special Report No 8/2004 (presented under Article 248(4) second subparagraph EC) on the Commission's management and supervision of the measures to control foot and mouth disease and of the related expenditure


Extract from the article in Farming Life  - November 2004

Court Of Auditors Reports Back On FMD Outbreak

By David McCoy

"......The Court's main observations concern the Commission's actions before, during and after the crisis. It made the following points:

* Before the 2001 crisis, the Commission did not subject the arrangements for prevention and control of the disease to adequate evaluation that took account of the changes in the risk factors.

* As the Commission did not carry out comprehensive evaluations and inspections in time, a number of weaknesses in the prevention and control arrangements concerning protective measures at borders, animal feed, animal movements and notification of the disease were not corrected before the outbreak of the epidemic.

* During the crisis, the Commission rapidly took the necessary emergency measures, such as notification of the disease to the Member States, surveillance and slaughter of sheep which had been imported from the United Kingdom before the crisis began, and the closure of markets; the shortcomings in the system and in its application in the Member States in respect of the number of vets, notification of the disease and the speed at which culling was carried out were identified by the Commission during the crisis but it was too late to remedy them.

* The way in which the Community financing system was applied during the crisis led to inconsistencies: the reimbursement rates for the various animal diseases have been aligned only for the pig sector; there were delays in reimbursements to Member States; during the crisis, in the absence of a more clearly defined Community framework, the Member States were able to introduce a variety of systems to compensate farmers, based on varying methods of assessing the value of the animals before slaughter.

* After the crisis, many shortcomings were remedied; nevertheless, the financial framework has not been revised and a number of Community measures are still inadequate with regard to the supervision of farms, notification of disease and speed in culling; these could compromise the effectiveness of the prevention and control arrangements in containing a future epidemic, while the Community would be obliged to reimburse the expenditure incurred as a result of their being applied.

As a result of its audit, the Court recommended that the Commission:

* Carry out regular evaluation of the prevention and control arrangements outside crisis periods and increase supervision of their implementation.

* Study ways of including farmers in the disease control system with a view to involving them more closely in rapid notification of disease and compliance with movement restrictions.

* Clarify the financial framework applicable to epidemics of animal disease, while reducing as far as possible the financial risk to the Community budget.

Extract from the article in Farming Life  - November 2004