Under the terms of the Treaty establishing the European Community,
there is a clear difference between the definitions for trade and importation.
In relation to animal products,
- intra-community trade or 'trade'
refers solely to the movement of animal products between EU Member States.
- Importation, or
'imports' refers solely to the
movement of animal products into the Member States from third Countries outside
the European Union.
Everyday, many consignments of meat, milk and other products of animal origin are traded or imported in the European Union. In order that all such consignments can be moved safely avoiding the transmission of diseases to either the public or other animals, the EU has laid down a wide range of animal health requirements.
The general animal health requirements that are applicable to both imports and intra-community trade are laid down in specific Council Directives.
In general, the requirements for intra-community trade are harmonized between the Member States. To ensure harmonisation is maintained, meat, milk and other products of animal origin must be produced in an authorised establishment usually under the supervision of an official veterinarian. Further random checks on the products may also be carried out at the final destination.
In addition to the general health requirements, specific requirements for animal products may also be required which take account of such issues as evolving disease situations in the Member States. In such instances, specific animal health certificates may be required.
For imports, additional requirements are set out in specific Commission Decisions. These lay down health certificates which must accompany all imports and which must be signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the exporting third country guaranteeing that the conditions for import into the EU have been met. On arrival in the EU, the animal products and the accompanying certificates must be verified and checked by EU official veterinarians at a designated Border Inspection Post (BIP). Further checks on the products may also be carried out at the final destination.
(More details on the requirements for intra-community trade and imports for animal products can be found under the menu above.)