IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE : The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.

Animal Health and Welfare
EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumer Protection > Overview > Animal Health and Welfare  Site Map | What's New | A to Z Index | Mailbox
Animal Diseases - Introduction

The principles of the EU strategy on animal diseases and its most important implementation tools can be summarized as follows:

  • control measures against major epizootic diseases, essentially list A OIE diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and classical swine fever (CSF), to be taken as soon as a disease is suspected.

    In case of a disease outbreak the animals in the infected holding are culled and their carcasses destroyed to interrupt the chain of infection as quickly as possible. When deemed necessary, preventive culling of animals in suspect (contact) farms may also be applied. Emergency vaccination can be used as an additional measure to achieve eradication. Generalised preventative vaccination against FMD and CSF is not applied, as it may "hide" the infectious agents and favour disease spread. However, for some diseases, such as bluetongue, which may not be effectively controlled by other means, vaccination is applied as the most important disease control tool;

  • eradication and monitoring programmes : for diseases already in the Community, such as rabies, Brucellosis and Tuberculosis, which are subject to national programmes co-financed by the EU;

  • application of the concept of "regionalization" in case of disease occurrence, consisting of the application of measures to control and eliminate disease from the infected area without applying restrictions in the rest of the country.

  • registration of farms, identification of animals and establishment of a computerized system linking more than 2 500 offices of the central and local veterinary authorities throughout the EU (ANIMO), which enables advance notification of the trade in animals and their products. These tools are essential to ensure traceability of these goods and further appropriate controls;

  • transparency as regards the animal health situation in the MSs. Occurrence of the most important diseases must be notified to the Commission and the other MSs, via the computerised Animal Disease Notification System, which now also involve many other European countries (EU acceding and candidate countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, etc.).

  • contingency plans in each MS for dealing with epizootic diseases, so that the competent authorities can ensure the rapid implementation of the most appropriate control measures, taking the local epidemiological situation into account;

  • EU and national reference laboratories to ensure uniformity of testing and expert support to the Commission and the MSs.

The implementation of the measures provided for in the legislation rests with the Member States(MSs). They are, however, financially supported by the EU for the expenditure incurred in relation to the measures applied, which may include the compensation for farmers who suffer serious economic losses due to animal diseases.

The Commission is responsible for ensuring that EU legislation is properly applied, for proposing further legislation to the legislator¹ and for adopting appropriate implementation rules. Before adoption, these rules are discussed with the MSs experts in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (section Animal Health and Animal Welfare), where information on the animal health situation is regularly exchanged.

In case of an emergency, the Commission may also adopt ad hoc additional control measures (safeguard clauses), if they are necessary for the protection of public and/or animal health. Therefore, the Commission plays a key role in the management of the most urgent and important animal health problems.

¹ The EU legislation on animal health is usually adopted by the Council (art. 37 of the Treaty, consultation procedure). However, if food safety or human health are also directly concerned, the European Parliament also play a primary role in the adoption of legislation (art. 152 of the Treaty, co-decision procedure).

Press Releases
Health & Consumer Voice Newsletter
International Affairs
Import Conditions
Pets and Animal Welfare

Food home page
Animal Health and Welfare home page
Plant Health home page
Food and Veterinary Office home page