Veterinary Checks on Imports and Applicable Legislation
The European Union (EU) follows Sanitary and Animal Welfare rules uniformly in all Member States, namely with a view to:
- The protection of its health status, with regard to the occurrence of diseases transmissible to men and other animals;
- The high quality and safety level of food;
- Animal welfare, either from an ethical point of view or as an important factor contributing to their health and, where applicable, for the quality of products made available to consumers.
Imports (entry into the Community area with origin in Countries outside this area, designated as Third Countries) can thus represent a high risk to animals, animal products (semen, ova and embryos, which include hatching eggs) or products of animal origin from these countries, if well-defined rules are not applied.
The EU has established these rules in various specific Community legislation, based on information about the Third Countries, namely:
- Its sanitary status;
- The veterinary legislation they apply;
- The organization and authority of the responsible veterinary services, as well as the means at their disposal for the exercise of their duties;
- Guarantees that these Countries can provide and how quickly they are able to "exchange relevant information";
- Their integration in international organizations such as the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health);
- The experience acquired with imports in progress and the conclusions drawn from Community inspections made in those Countries, which include the checking of hygienic conditions for the handling of animal origin products.
As a result, the different health and welfare rules applied to imports are laid down in:
- Lists of countries or regions of those countries authorized to export to the EU;
- Establishments lists approved in those countries;
- Health Certificate models, issued by the Competent Authorities of Third Countries, "certifying" compliance with legal rules imposed by the EU.
HOW TO CHECK THE COMPLIANCE OF THESE RULES?
Through veterinary checks over the goods.
WHICH ARE THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THESE CONTROLS?
o To provide the protective guarantees of Public Health and Animal Health needed to the movement of animals and imported products;
o To harmonize import conditions in the EU so that the same control rules are applied, regardless of the entry point;
o To ensure market stabilization and security of supply;
o To establish protection rules in order to prevent fraud.
WHEN ARE THEY PERFORMED?
When the consignment (products or live animals) is introduced in the EU.
In structures called Community Border Inspection Posts (BIP), operating under the responsibility of the competent veterinary authority, designated and approved for veterinary checks on animals and products from third countries that arrive to the border of any EU country.
The general approval conditions for BIP (Border Inspection Posts) are foreseen in the Community legislation, for live animals in Annex A of Directive 91/496/EEC, diploma that was transposed into national law by Decree-Law No 79/2011 and for products in Decision 2001/812/EC and in Annex II of Directive 97/78/EC, this latter diploma transposed into national law by Decree-Law No 210/2000 and of Decree-Law No 236/2007.
There are BIP that simultaneously perform the control of animals and products, and its facilities have separate/defined locations for this purpose. On the other hand, there are BIP only approved for certain "specific valences" (consult the List of national BIP).
The existence of a BIP always primarily depends on the economic interest in importation of animals or products subject to a veterinary control through a specific entry point to the EU.
- By performing the checks:
o Documental (check the form and content of health certificates or other documentation of veterinary nature);
o Identity (agreement between the certificates or other documentation of veterinary nature and the products of the batch or delivery);
o Physical (verification of the product itself and of its correspondence with Community law which may be reduced in certain situations).
- Through previous communication of the arrival of the goods, by the person responsible for the load (the importer or his representative) to the BIP, using a Community computer system known as TRACES, filling in the first part of a document (common veterinary entry document - CVED);
- Through the verification of the manifests of ships and planes and their compliance with the documents provided (Health certificates or other documentation of veterinary nature);
- Through consultation of archive/database of information available (legislation, regulatory documents, safeguard measures etc.).
- When veterinary checks are completed and the consignment is considered suitable for marketing, CVED is issued in the BIP, which will accompany the consignment from then on, at least until their first destination, granting “free circulation" status, from the veterinary point of view.
The organization, the different types and the sequence of these controls are contemplated matters in Community and national legislation. The Directorate-General of Food and Veterinary has been issuing, over time, many regulatory documents and procedure manuals directed to the Veterinary Services of different regions, the Coordinators of the area, the technicians who perform functions in the Border Inspection Posts (BIP), the persons responsible for the loads and other entities with intervention in the controls.
Next, and in schematic form, a perspective of the different relevant veterinary legislation is intended to be presented.