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Document 31996Y0713(01)

Council Resolution of 25 June 1996 on measures to be implemented under veterinary policy

OJ C 203, 13.7.1996, p. 1–3 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

In force

31996Y0713(01)

Council Resolution of 25 June 1996 on measures to be implemented under veterinary policy

Official Journal C 203 , 13/07/1996 P. 0001 - 0003


COUNCIL RESOLUTION

of 25 June 1996

on measures to be implemented under veterinary policy

(96/C 203/01)

I

Considering that the implementation of the decisions taken in the context of the completion of the single market and the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements have, in a relatively short space of time, wrought profound changes in institutional relationships and legislative procedures within the European Union and between the latter and third countries; and considering that the simplification and transparency of decisions, at the levels of adoption, implementation, monitoring and communication to the outside world are vital if we are to overcome the widespread difficulties in applying them and the growing failure to understand the rules adopted by the Union,

the Council has agreed to:

(a) ask the Commission to associate consumer and producer associations more effectively in discussions preparatory to the drafting of legislative proposals in the context of an ad hoc advisory committee with competence for matters relating to veterinary legislation, open to this form of association;

(b) adopt the requisite means for providing widespread, constant communication and information of the citizens of the Union, in comprehensible terms, of measures taken to safeguard and protect public health and veterinary hygiene;

(c) organize access to the existing corpus of information within the Community bodies and at national level through the creation of a network of information and legislative documentation centres.

II

Considering that the WTO agreements have changed the ground rules for Community legislation and result in new consequences where problems arise on the Community's internal market; considering that the principle of equivalence recognized in the WTO requires Member States to conform, both within the Union and vis-à-vis third countries, to the guarantees necessary to ensure that the level of health protection in the Union is maintained,

The Council considers that these principles create new needs and place new demands on the Commission and the Member States, in order to bring about:

- simplification of legislation as a first step towards improved understanding and implementation, while guaranteeing a high level of health protection;

- increased cooperation in defining the Union's position vis-à-vis third countries;

- greater coherence between Community harmonization of legislation and rules relating to sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT);

- improved organizational and operational criteria within the Commission's veterinary departments, taking into account the process of achieving equivalence of the Member States' veterinary services and adhering to the principle of subsidiarity;

- a much more effective response to the demand for uniform application of the rules made by operators.

III

Considering that supervision of the application of Community rules is primarily the responsibility of the official veterinary services; considering that these services must therefore have equivalent powers in each country of the Union; and considering that it is for the Commission to ensure that these Community rules are uniformly applied,

The Council invites the Commission to take the necessary steps to draw up criteria which the official veterinary services must apply to the various spheres of their activity (administrative authorities, national laboratories), the ultimate aim being to compile quality handbooks, entrusting this specific and delicate task to a group of consultants, so that practical suggestions may speedily be made to it and translated into recommendations;

The Council considers that these objectives could be achieved through:

- regular consultation of the chief veterinary officers in the course of coordination prior to decisions relating to agreements between the Union and third countries,

- revision of Community legislation on the new SPS and TBT rules, to be entrusted to a working party made up of qualified individuals,

- revision and improvement of the procedures of the Standing Veterinary Committee so that common positions may be established more easily and more quickly on matters subject to notification under the WTO Agreement so that the Commission may adopt, at the earliest opportunity, the legislative acts which have the object of technical agreement within the Standing Veterinary Committee after notification of the WTO and also so that the Member States may be associated in drawing up a Community position on third country legislation and notifications. The compatibility of the Union's legislation with that of third countries should be checked by the Commission,

- adoption by the Commission of recommendations for the work of the Commission departments, in order to harmonize the assessment procedures used by the Commission and the Member States,

- adoption of guidelines to ensure the certainty and uniformity of application of veterinary directives by the competent authorities of the Member States,

- application of the principle of regionalization through more flexible management of Community health marking, allowing for suspension of marking in regions in difficulty without loss of overall Community status.

IV

Considering that a proper information system is indispensable to facilitate and improve the activities and decision-making processes of the veterinary services and that, to ensure the transparency of the Union's markets, the rational implementation of preventive measures and the monitoring of consistency of action in relations with third countries are vital,

The Council considers that to achieve the implementation of a veterinary information system in the Union covering the different sectors of activity (internal movement of animals, imports from third countries, epidemiological surveillance networks) it is necessary to:

(a) increase the effectiveness of the Animo system;

(b) submit to the Council by 1 October 1996 a scheme for implementing the Shift system (system for health control of imports from third countries at frontier inspection posts) together with a precise timetable;

(c) indicate the common position to be put forward by the Community in international bodies, in particular Codex, the International Office of Epizootics (IOE) and the WTO, regarding the management of risk assessment in compliance with the Treaty rules;

(d) set out at Community level the arrangements for crisis management, in particular the conditions for setting up crisis units which are capable at any time of mobilizing the operational staff to be sent to the area concerned.

V

Considering that training activities are a key factor in achieving consistent quality in the veterinary services that will be able to provide adequate responses to the demand for protection within the Union, and that the responsibility for defining requirements for both initial and continuing training of public veterinary officials lies with the veterinary services, which must put adequate resources into training activities;

Considering that closer collaboration between national administrations and universities is also needed to ensure that university degree and postgraduate curricula conform to the Union's new requirements;

The Council believes that the most urgently needed measures are therefore:

- the definition of a common programme for the initial and continuing training of staff in the monitoring services, with consistency between the real requirements of the public veterinary services and university curricula, which should include an applied epidemiology course,

- a marked increase in Community training courses for the staff of the Member States' veterinary services on the application of Community rules and agreements on equivalence with third countries,

- uniform training for prospective official veterinarians, continuing training for such official veterinarians and coordination of the measures to be taken to ensure uniform application of this objective,

- access to such training for official veterinarians from third countries and in particular from countries applying for accession and the ACP States,

- the setting up of a training network and programmes for cooperation with neighbouring third countries with a view to strengthening the peripheral health protection of the Union.

VI

Considering that the ability of a public service to cope with the demands of applying the current considerable numbers of directives and decisions does not depend solely on internal operational rules and the professionalism of the service, but also on the availability of adequate human and material resources;

Considering that the veterinary services of the Member States responsible for applying Community rules should be adapted to the level of the decisions taken in the course of creating the conditions for a single market;

Considering that the imbalance currently evident in this respect is particularly worrying as the veterinary services in most Member States are responsible for protection of the health of consumers and the health of the Community animal population;

Considering that the recent crisis makes it a matter of urgency to restore consumer confidence and re-establish the image of Community animals and products on the world market,

The Council invites the Commission to make a thorough assessment of the real needs of the veterinary services within the Member States in relation to present and future objectives, determining financial requirements and providing funding to both indirect measures (veterinary legislation must make the connection between contributions requested and the funding of the activities of the services) and direct measures (increase in the services' budget for execution and monitoring).

VII

The Council invites the Commission to organize itself in the most effective manner so as to fulfil its role as guarantor of the Treaty and of the uniform application of the rules,

The Council takes note of the submission of a proposal for the establishment of a European veterinary and phytosanitary inspection agency, and agrees to examine it as a matter of priority.

VIII

The Council invites the Commission to submit to it and to the European Parliament before 1 December 1996 an action plan for implementation of this resolution.

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