Progress report on avian influenza (H5N1): Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 20 March

March 22, 2006

Brussels, 21 March 2006

20th Council Meeting - Agriculture and Fisheries. Brussels, 20 March 2006
Provisional version

Commissioner Kyprianou provided his monthly update to the Council on the latest developments concerning the identified cases of avian influenza H5N1 strain in the world and in the European Union.

He noted that until now, the virus H5N1 had been found on wild birds in 11 Member States (Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Poland), and only detected in two commercial holdings in the whole European Union. He reminded the delegations that the measures taken by a Decision of the Commission and being applied by the Member States where the virus had been identified, are the establishment of a high risk area (a 3 km protection zone) around the area where the infected animals have been found, and a surrounding surveillance zone of 10 km.

Since the last meeting of the Council, he indicated that vaccination had been authorised in one region of France for ducks and geese and in the Netherlands for backyard flocks, poultry not confined, birds for hobby, and that these programmes of vaccination shall be considered as pilot projects that could provide more scientific information.

Concerning the tools to be used to fight contamination of avian influenza, he confirmed the support of his Institution for the request supported by Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, in favour of a self declaration system at Community levels for passengers carrying potentially infected products or live animals, arriving from third countries but regretted the lack of support of this initiative at the level of the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH), and noted the importance and the means of information -notably posters and leaflets - to be provided to passengers travelling to affected third countries or risk areas.

As regard the international situation, he informed the Council on the recent cases of H5N1 in turkey farms in Israel and the Community ban on poultry meat, poultry products and eggs from this country. He expressed his concerns regarding the situation in Africa (Egypt and Nigeria mainly) where his assessment of the situation was not positive, following his recent visit in these countries.

He stressed the need to remain vigilant due to the expected Spring migration of wild birds from Africa to Europe. He expressed this regrets concerning the attitude from some third countries which applied a global ban on Community poultry products instead of adopting a "regional approach" principle and indicated that the services of the Commission were making every efforts to lift such unjustified bans. Finally he asked the delegations to make concrete steps towards the payment of their pledges made at the Beijing Conference last January.

EU Council
News release 7049/06 (Presse 70)

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