Dáil Éireann - Volume 628 - 29 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Animal Welfare.

Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the persons who represented Ireland at the recent Conference on Community Animal Health Policy Strategy; the views they expressed; her view of what should be included within a community animal health policy strategy; and the options that should be considered to improve European Union biosecurity policy. [40552/06]

  Mary Coughlan: Two officials from my Department attended the Conference on Community Animal Health Policy Strategy (CAHP) hosted by the Finnish Presidency held in Brussels on 7 November 2006. The conference was set against the backdrop of the development of a new EU animal health strategy and in the context of an ongoing external evaluation of the EU’s existing animal health policy aimed at strengthening the policy of disease eradication, making emergency vaccination a more viable option, simplifying the legislation and making better use of financial resources to fund new actions. This evaluation was launched by Commissioner Kyprianou in December 2004. It is hoped by mid 2007 that the Commission will present a new Communication on the CAHP and its strategy over the period 2007-2013 based on the evaluation results and the conference conclusions.

Items discussed during the conference included:

a presentation of the main results of an evaluation of the CAHP 1995-2004 commissioned by the European Commission;

[1445] the challenges for the future CAHP for the years 2007-2013;

the increased sharing of responsibilities and costs and increased disease prevention / biosecurity issues.

Ireland did not make a formal presentation at the conference because the format involved presentations by selected speakers largely from the European Commission and the European Parliament with limited audience debating opportunities between or after sessions. Animal health plays a key role in facilitating the trade in animals and their products, ensuring food safety and preventing the transmission of animal diseases between animals and to humans. With regard to the development of the CAHP, I believe that serious consideration will have to be given to the increasing range of options becoming available to prevent and combat animal diseases and their spread, the further development of biosecurity arrangements, the simplification of animal health legislation, the arrangements for financing of disease outbreaks and the potential for sharing of costs and responsibilities. Within the context of a new CAHP, Ireland’s acknowledged high health status should not be in any way compromised and I and my officials will make every effort to maintain this position. I welcome the initiation of this discussion on the development of a Community Animal Health Policy for the next six years, which I hope will lead to an effective, affordable and socially acceptable animal health policy in Europe.