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EU/RUSSIA : MOSCOW EXTENDS EU MEAT IMPORT BAN.

"We want to create conditions allowing our country to realise its competitive potential, to make itself a good place on the international market and to protect our population against the negative consequences and excessive dependence on imports," said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on 14 July, on the eve of an announcement by his veterinary services of a series of additional restrictions on the import of meat from eight EU countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Italy. Negotiations to restart European exports of meat products, launched following the first restrictions decreed in April then in mid-June, are at a standstill, acknowledged the European Commission.

Moscow criticises the lack of reactivity of several European countries to reduce the level of antibiotic residue present in their exported meat products. Sergei Dankvert, the head of the Russian veterinary services, particularly chastises European breeders for using veterinary medicines preventatively. He believes that the treatment should be stopped at least 30 days before slaughter to avoid the presence of residues in the meat and therefore allow Community professionals to respect Russian norms, state EU sources.

ZERO TOLERANCE

The Commission believes that the recent "zero tolerance for antibiotic residues set by Russian legislation is used to take measures which disproportionately affect European meat exports". It insists on the absence of risks for human health linked to the presence of traces of antibiotics in the meat.

It has been agreed with the Russian health minister to begin discussions in the coming months on the issue of veterinary medicines, specifies the EU executive. A first bilateral meeting should take place in the coming weeks in Parma, in the framework of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) during which the EU will defend its scientific approach before Russian experts.

The new restrictions, announced on 15 July by Russian services, should be added to the stop to imports from many EU companies, including ten in Belgium, 19 in Germany, six in Denmark, 19 in Spain and 16 in France, which was decreed in late June. Dankvert stresses that it is not a question of imposing an embargo on all European products, but simply ensuring that meat sold in Russia complies with the norms in force in his country. Due to there being veterinary inspections in the 27 EU member states, as was recently still the case, his veterinary services carry out the control when these goods have entered Russia, he argues.

An immense inspection tour to look into the hygiene standards in abattoirs and meat processing plants in Europe is scheduled to be carried out in autumn by his services. France, Spain, and Germany should be targeted as a priority.an

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Publication:European Report
Date:Jul 24, 2008
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