For the full article see extract

At the heart of the confusion over powers and responsibilities is the European Union.

To an extent that has not been fully appreciated or acknowledged, the whole of the UK's response to the crisis is dictated by EU legislation - Council Directive 85/511/EEC (as amended). Mr Blair might give the press conferences, pose in front of Army situation maps and hold crisis committees, but the UK is not a free agent. It is bound by the detail of this directive, obliged under community law to follow it to the letter.

However, the extent of EU involvement by no means ends with the Directive. EU institutions also take a hand in the day-to-day management of the epidemic. The executive authority here is the Commission which, in dictating the conduct of the response, has issued a number of Commission Decisions (starting with 2001/172/EC). These decisions, reviewed at virtually weekly intervals, set out in minute details exactly what is expected of the UK government. But behind the Commission is a shadowy organisation known as the Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC). The SVC is one of the EU's nine "regulatory committees", set up under Council Decision 68/361/EEC to "carry out the duties devolving upon it under the instruments adopted by the Council in the veterinary field".

When it comes to vaccination policy, the EU has considerably complicated matters.

From the outset, routine vaccination is prohibited by Directive 85/511/EEC (as amended by Directive 90/423/EEC) but permission for emergency vaccination may be granted by the Commission when the disease "threatens to become extensive".

However, in order for the Commission grant permission, it must consult with the SVC. This procedure was adopted when the UK applied for permission for emergency vaccination in Cumbria and Devon, resulting in Commission Decision 2001/257/EC which was promulgated on 30 March 2001.

For the full article by Dr Richard North see