AGRICULTURE: DEAL STRUCK ON BANNING ANIMAL WASTE IN FEED.
The deal will be voted on July 12 in Strasbourg by the conciliation delegation that the Parliament has appointed. The draft Regulation will then go back to the Council in July which should formally reject Parliament's amendments from the second reading which were voted in plenary session on March 13. The main bone of contention was amendment 25, which allowed a four-year transition period for feeding catering waste to pigs. In the Spanish Presidency compromise text, this amendment has been taken out and a new second paragraph added to Article 32. It permits the continued use of certain types of catering waste in feed under "strictly controlled circumstances" for a maximum of four years.It is a very contentious issue because the primary cause of BSE was found to lie in meat and bone meal (and not least sheep's brains) fed to cows. Animal by-products are used in a range of products from meat-and-bone meal to gelatine and collagen with ten million tonnes produced annually in the EU. This was main reason why Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Byrne was furious with the amendments as his original safeguards were being called into question. But by adding an increased level of control, the Commission and a qualified majority of Member States can accept such a transition period this time round.Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden are unhappy with the compromise text but can do nothing about it. However, Germany and Austria are giving the compromise their full support since they both argued for a derogation from the moment the draft Regulation on animal by-products was launched in October 2000. Parliament supported their position in the first and second readings of the text but a qualified majority in the Council refused to accept its amendments. This led to Germany and Austria voting against the common position following the first reading on November 20, 2001.The Spanish Presidency saw a qualified majority existed when it put the compromise to the Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives (COREPER) on June 4. Germany and Austria will now have to put a special system in place to combat the spread of disease and guarantee feed safety before the actual legislation is applicable. The Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, the regulatory committee made up of the Member States' Chief Veterinary Officers, has been given the role of deciding on the level of monitoring. But first of all, a scientific committee must prepare the ground and it is expected that Germany and Austria will also suggest appropriate control systems.--When the Conciliation Committee involving representatives from all the three institutions meets in September, the compromise agreed can be put on the agenda as an A point which requires no debate. Once the joint text is approved, the Council adopts it under the third reading by qualified majority while the Parliament votes on it in plenary. It is expected that the legislation will be adopted by the end of September and be applicable six months later. But since a ban on pig swill will apply from November 1, 2002 as part of the Directive on the control of classical swine fever, Germany and Austria must have their control systems in place by that date. This agreement marks the second major component of the Commission strategy to combat and eradicate BSE.--
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|Date:||Jun 12, 2002|
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