EU pledges €214m to combat animal disease

The EU has announced that it will cut spend on animal disease programmes by €45m next year.

Ministers made the decision at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) meeting last week, pledging €203m (£184m) to support programmes to eradicate and control animal disease in 2012.

Member states also unanimously endorsed the Commission proposals to contribute €11.5m (£9.9m) for the emergency measures and vaccination plans taken to combat some animal diseases over the past four years.

Officials said a reduction in disease prevalence, as the result of successful programmes over the past year, was behind the budget cuts.

John Dalli, EU health and consumer policy commissioner, said: “It is rewarding to witness the tangible benefits of the EU’s efforts, which have resulted in a significantly improved situation on TSE, salmonella, rabies, bluetongue, classical swine fever, avian influenza, tuberculosis and brucellosis.

“Being aware of the current budgetary constraints, the Commission has done its utmost to keep assisting, particularly in areas where difficulties persist and to ensure the maintenance of the vigilance in order to better protect consumers.”

Overall, 138 annual or multi-annual programmes have been selected for EU funding to tackle animal diseases that impact human and animal health and trade.

The financing of bovine tuberculosis programmes in five Member States will take the lion’s share of the earmarked funds, with about €65m (£55.7m). The budget also contains €54m (£46.3m) for risk management of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), €7m (£6m) for bluetongue vaccination programmes, €3.7m (£3.2m) for classical swine fever programmes, €16m (£13.7m) for salmonellosis programmes and €2.3m (£2m) for avian influenza programmes.

Member States will also continue to carry out surveillance for avian influenza in poultry and wild birds in 2012 with the financial assistance of €2.3m from the EU budget. The implementation of the surveillance programmes is the most effective way to detect early outbreaks and is extremely useful in preventing the spread of this disease, which can have serious economic repercussions on poultry farming.

The approved €11.5m (£9.9m) in support of emergency measures will be distributed to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Italy, France and Bulgaria.