- The BSE (Mad Cow Disease) Committee says
that the Commission has implemented most of Parliament's recommendations
or has agreed to clear deadlines for their implementation. The main points
to which this applies are the following:
- Inspections were found to be inadequate
and poorly organised. They have now been improved. The monitoring system
has been overhauled and the relevant Commission departments reorganised.
The conclusions of the reports from the veterinary inspection visits will
be made available to Parliament and the general public. Within the Commission,
monitoring functions have now been separated from legislative activities.
- Protection of public health was inadequate
- hence the public's concern. The Commission is currently drawing up a
framework directive on food law. In addition, on 12 October 1997, it adopted
a proposal for a directive on liability for primary agricultural products.
The Commission has promised to push for the co-decision procedure to be
applied to agricultural policy. However, the regulation on beef labelling,
adopted by the Council contrary to Parliament's wishes, was adopted under
Article 43 which provides for consultations only rather than Article 100a
which would have involved the codecision procedure - the Commission has
lodged an appeal against Council's choice of legal procedures.
- The institution of proceedings for infringement
of the Treaty against Member States which fail to comply with EU law on
- However, problems remain and measures
will have to be taken to deal with them. The recommendations listed below
were not followed up on:
- Legislative proposals to allow compensation
claims for costs incurred as a result of BSE.
- Disciplinary measures. Although the report
welcomes the fact that a reorganization has taken place at all levels of
the veterinary services, as part of which officials have been assigned
to other duties, it regrets the fact that no disciplinary measures have
- Administrative measures against the UK
to obtain a refund for the EU budget of the funds granted to help eradicate
- The institution of proceedings against
the British Government for the failure by Mr Douglas HOGG, former Agriculture
Minister, to appear before the Committee of Enquiry.
- The United Kingdom
- With regard to the plants visited in
the UK, the report welcomes the substantial and effective efforts made
such as improved provision of documentation, closer checking and staining
to prevent meat which is unfit for human consumption from being placed
on the market. It hopes, however, that such efforts are not confined to
the plants which were visited by Parliament's BSE delegation to the UK.
- The committee is disturbed at the scale
of the traffic in meat of British origin in violation of the embargo and
deplores the lack of coordination between the police and customs services
of the Member States, and between EUROPOL and UCLAF (the Commission's anti-fraud
unit), as well as the lack of information or the delays with which provide
information to the relevant Commission departments.
- As the BSE delegation noted on its visit
to the UK on 1 and 2 October 1997 that port checks are not strict enough.
- The report regrets the omission of any
proposal to improve the monitoring system but notes the undertaking by
the President of the Commission, Mr Santer, to submit proposals on the
system by February 1998 at the latest.
- Meat-and-bone meal
- Meat-and-bone meal, which is used as
a supplement to animal feed, is generally accepted as the main cause of
BSE in cows. Strict legislation is therefore needed to provide the guarantees
needed to ensure that an outbreak of this kind does not happen again. This
was the purpose of the International Scientific Conference on Meat-and-Bone
Meal held in Brussels on 1-2 July 1997 by Parliament and the Commission.
- Parliament's position on this matter
is clear. It argues that it is acceptable to manufacture and use meat-and-bone
meal, as this is the only way of disposing of animal carcasses, but that
a range of precautions is needed to eliminate any health hazards. Sterilisation
for at least 20 minutes at 1330 C and 3 bar (a standard which has been
binding in the EU since 1 April 1997) is essential; risky substances must
be withdrawn, as must carcasses of animals which are sick or unfit for
human consumption (15% of the substances currently processed); there must
be a ban on feeding such meal to ruminants; and, as an additional precaution,
meat-and-bone meal should not as a rule be produced in the UK.
- The BVGE report calls for rules on the
labelling of meat-and-bone meal: it says the ban on feeding it to ruminants
should be clearly marked on the packaging, along with the ingredients.
- There is as yet no EU ban on ``recycling''
carcasses of sick animals into meat-and-bone meal (unlike in Switzerland
- The Commission should, says the report,
push for the EU's standards to be adopted at the forthcoming WTO negotiations.
- Support for victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob
- To date, 21 people have died of the new
variant of CJD in the UK. The MEPs on Parliament's BSE delegation to the
UK officially met representatives of the association of victims and families
of victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease who had not been given the opportunity
to meet UK Government ministers. The MEPs concluded that the health care
system was not able to cope with the victims' needs.
- Parliament has expressed its support
by adopting a budget amendment to provide funding for the victims and their
families. The BSE Committee is urging the Commission to ensure the funding
provided, without absolving the United Kingdom of prime responsibility
for the matter.
- The new scientific findings published
in the journal Nature endorse the belief that there is a link between BSE
and CJD. Parliament is keen to encourage research to discover how the disease
is transmitted from animals to human beings. Of the additional funding
for the 1997-98 fourth framework research programme, Ecu 35m out of a total
of Ecu 115m have been earmarked for BSE research.
- Further information: Etienne BASSOT -
tel. 32 2 284 47 41