The EU animal health policy is the result of decades long development in the fight against transmissible animal diseases (often epidemics) and covers all animals in the EU kept for food, farming, sport, companionship, entertainment and in zoos. It also covers wild animals and animals used in research where there is a risk of them transmitting disease to other animals or to humans.
It protects human and animal health and welfare as well as food safety as it is working towards high animal health status of livestock, poultry and fish by controlling animal disease outbreaks and by surveillance and eradication programmes. It ensures smooth and safe internal EU market (including introduction into the EU) of live animals and products of animal origin (including animal by-products) by legislative and non-legislative measures. It works under the motto "prevention is better than cure".
It is also strongly linked to the international standards of the relevant standard setting body (World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE) and the EU’s obligations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement in the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This Agreement is aimed at minimising the negative effects of unjustified health barriers on international trade. The European Commission is actively involved in the work of the OIE and coordinates the input from EU Member States.