Brussels, 7 November 2005
Council conclusions on avian and pandemic influenza
2686th GENERAL AFFAIRS Council meeting
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
1. The Council had a discussion on avian influenza and human pandemic influenza, during which the Presidency and the Commission provided updates on latest developments. The Council welcomed these briefings.
2. The Council (General Affairs and External Relations) noted that in its last discussion of this issue, on 18 October 2005, it had resolved to keep the situation under close review and return to it if the situation required it. The Council viewed this meeting as an opportune occasion on which to do so.
3. The Commission updated the Council on recent events, including the verification of the H5N1 virus in Croatia and the isolated case of H5N1 in a quarantined bird in the UK. The Commission also updated the Council on its proposal, tabled on 25 October and endorsed unanimously by Member States, which suspends the importation of live birds other than poultry and their products from third countries currently eligible to export to the EU. The Council noted that this suspension would run to 30 November 2005, whilst being subject to review in the interim.
4. The Council noted that since the 18 October Council discussion, this issue has also been discussed at the 20-21 October Informal meeting of Health Ministers and the 24-25 Council (Agriculture).
5. The Council welcomed these productive discussions. It noted that the Health Ministers' Informal concluded that effective co-ordination between EU Member States was essential; that clear, calm and consistent communication was key; and that international co-operation with the WHO should be continued. The Council noted that Health Ministers also looked forward to a further discussion of this issue at the 9 December Council (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs). The Council noted the Commission's intention to adopt, before the 9 December Council, a Communication on influenza pandemic preparedness and response planning in the EU [an update of the March 2004 document], and a Communication on strengthening coordination on generic preparedness planning for public health emergencies in the EU.
6. The Council noted the useful updates provided by the Commission and various Member States at the meeting of the Council (Agriculture) on 24 October. It also noted the Council's (Agriculture) conclusion that there would be opportunity to return to the issue of avian influenza at future meetings. The Council also noted the Council's (Agriculture) aim to reach a conclusion on the new Directive on avian influenza in December.
7. The Council welcomed the initial paper on principles and priorities to guide the provision of assistance to third countries, and the continuing work in collaboration with the Commission to develop a comprehensive plan on the avian influenza and human influenza pandemic threats, as compiled by the Presidency, and discussed by Member States at the 28 October meeting of the Presidency Group. The Council looks forward to the completion of the comprehensive Plan as soon as possible.
8. The Council also welcomed the Commission's and Member States' emphasis on the needs of third countries and the need for the Commission and Member States to act in support of the roles, mandates and priorities of the relevant multilateral organisations (FAO, OIE, WHO) and of the UN system co-ordinator, Dr David Nabarro, in particular, in preparation for the UN Meeting in Geneva on 7-9 November 2005.
9. The Council once again agreed that it would keep the situation under review and return to it if the situation required it.