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Food Safety

Movements within the Union

To prevent the spreading of animal diseases, many aspects of keeping and moving small ruminants are regulated by Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Animal Health Law, AHL) on transmissible animal diseases.

Before and during dispatch

Regulation 2019/2035 lays down rules for establishments keeping terrestrial animals and for the traceability of those animals within the Union. As a general rule, establishments and transporters have to be registered by their national competent authority. Only animals that originate from a registered or approved establishment can be moved to another Member State.

The animal health requirements for movements within the Union of ovine and caprine animals are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688, section 2. These rules and risk mitigation measures ensure that movements of animals do not pose a significant risk of spreading diseases that affect human or animal health.

There are biosecurity rules for the transport of animals: animals must not be able to escape and excrements must not fall out, visual inspection must be possible. Cleaning and disinfection has to take place as soon as possible after transportation.

Animals should be moved directly from the establishment of origin to the destination. By way of derogation, they may be assembled in establishments approved by the competent authority (Article 94(1) (a) of the AHL).

Operators may only move ovine and caprine animals to another Member State if Article 15 of Regulation (EU) 2020/688 is fulfilled (e.g. health guarantees for certain diseases). Movements to a zone with disease-free status or with eradication programs have to fulfil specific conditions (Article 16 and Article 17). Ovine and caprine animals moved to another Member State for immediate slaughter have to comply with the requirements of Article 18 of this Regulation.

An establishment, a zone or the whole territory of a Member State may reach disease-free status to facilitate trade in accordance with the requirements set out in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/689.

The lists of Member States and regions declared free of certain diseases i.e. Brucellosis, or under an eradication programme, are set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/620. For information purposes, the maps of Member States and regions thereof with disease-free status and approved eradication programmes can also be consulted.

An animal health certificate (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403) in which, prior to dispatch, an official veterinarian attests that the animals fulfil all the requirements for movements between Member States has to be created in TRACES NT. Operators can create this document by themselves, in order to present it to the official veterinarian. The certificate accompanies the animals during the whole transport. More information about the TRACES database is available here.

At destination

Operators of establishments and slaughterhouses receiving kept terrestrial animals from another Member State must check the animals, their correct identification and if documentation is complete. If they perceive any irregularity, they have to inform the competent authority of the place of destination. In this case, animals must be isolated until the competent authority advises how to proceed.

Because there are no border controls for movements between the Member States, non-discriminatory spot checks are carried out en-route and at the destination according to the Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls (OCR) to ensure that consignments comply with the guarantees provided by the animal health certificate.

For more information, please see Article 127 of the AHL

Entry into the EU

Animal health

Ovine and caprine animals must fulfil the animal health requirements laid down in Regulation (EU) 2016/429. Part V of this Regulation establishes the general animal health conditions for the entry into the territory of the Union for ovine and caprine animals.

  • The objective of this harmonisation is to make sure that the same principles for entry into the EU of ovine and caprine animals are applied in all of the Member States and prevent animals from entering EU territory if they are carrying infectious diseases that are dangerous for livestock or humans.
  • The general animal health requirements and the requirements a non-EU country has to fulfil to be authorised to enter animals into the EU are based on:
    • the health status of livestock, of other animals and wildlife
    • the legislation of the non-EU country
    • the country's rules on the prevention and control of animal diseases
    • the organisation, structure, competence and power of the veterinary services
    • membership of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
    • the regularity and rapidity of information on infectious animal diseases provided by the non-EU country to the Commission and the OIE
  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 lays down specific animal health requirements for non-EU countries, supplementing the measures laid down in Part II of the AHL. These include: freedom from diseases (e.g. foot and mouth disease), residency periods in the country of origin, requirements for establishments of origin (Regulation (EU) 2020/692; Art 23), health requirements for the animals (Regulation (EU) 2020/692; Article 13 and Article 14) and certification.
  • It is possible to regionalise a country. This means that depending on the animal health situation and the guarantees offered by that country, only a part of its territory may be authorised for entry into the EU.

Authorised countries ('listed countries')

Based on the principles contained in the animal health law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429), on the specific requirements in Regulation (EU) 2020/692 and on the results of an audit carried out to verify that all the criteria are properly fulfilled, the non-EU country may be authorised for the export of ovine and caprine animals. This requires inclusion on the list of non-EU countries, territories or parts thereof as laid down in Annex II to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404. Entry into the Union of ovine and caprine animals is only authorised from those non-EU countries where a specific model of veterinary certificate is present, as listed in column 5 of Annex II, Part 1 of that Regulation.

For ovine and caprine animals, a non-EU country can be listed for the import of (see Parts 1 and 2 of Annex II to Regulation 2021/404):

  • animals for breeding and production ("for further keeping") under certificate OV/CAP-X, and/or
  • animals for immediate slaughter after entry under certificate OV/CAP-Y

Disease assessment

Once listed in Regulation (EU) 2021/404, a non-EU country, territory or part thereof is approved in principle for export to the EU. However, before the entry into the Union of live ovine and caprine animals, further steps are necessary: An assessment of the specific disease situation and, accordingly, additional requirements to minimise potential disease risks are set. These are laid down in Part 4 of Annex II of Regulation (EU) 2021/404, and include:

  • Specific conditions (column 7): giving specific requirements based on the animal health status in a listed non-EU-Country, and indicate when freedom from certain diseases has been recognised in those countries.

If additional requirements are necessary, the official veterinarian in the exporting non-EU country must ensure that the relevant sections are completed in the official health certificate.

Official health certificates

An official health certificate must accompany ovine and caprine animals being presented for entry into the European Union. The relevant certificates for ovine and caprines (certificate OV/CAP-X for animals for further keeping, and certificate OV/CAP-Y for animals for immediate slaughter) are laid down in Chapter 4 and 5 of Annex II of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403.

Basic information on the non-EU country of origin, the place of destination and the identification of animals in the establishment must be included in the certificate. It also contains an attestation to guarantee that the non-EU country complies with certain public health requirements including that the animals are from holdings that are free from certain zoonotic diseases (e.g. brucellosis, anthrax and rabies), have not received certain pharmaceutical treatments and hormones.

An official veterinarian in the authorised non-EU country has to sign the official health certificate to attest that all the relevant conditions in the certificate are met. The certification must accompany the animals en-route to the EU and when they are presented for entry into the EU at an approved EU Border Control Post.

Border inspections

Live animals entering the Union are inspected at a Border Control Post. Regulation (EU) 2019/2130 provides detailed rules for official controls at Border Control Posts on animals entering the Union from non-EU countries.

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