12 September 2001
Euro-vets reject regions’ export plans

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

EU vets have roundly rejected UK suggestions that some foot-and-mouth free regions, such as Scotland, should be allowed to resume exports.

A 150-page situation report, outlining the controls in the UK and the special circumstances in Scotland, was presented to the Brussels-based standing veterinary committee on Tuesday (11 September).

But every member state which commented, including France, Spain and Ireland, said it was far too early to even consider relaxing the export controls.

“Recent outbreaks in Northumberland and this weeks scare in Leicestershire have heightened their fears that foot-and-mouth is still circulating,” said a UK government source in Brussels.

“It seems they want a clear run with no outbreaks at all before they will consider even limited regionalisation.”

Farmer representatives said they were disappointed, but not surprised at the outcome.

“Theyre not saying no to regionalisation under any circumstances, but they want us to eliminate the hotspots,” said director of the NFUs Brussels office, Betty Lee.

“There is concern that, even with testing, the disease could reappear.”

There may also be more political will to move things forward once France, Ireland and the Netherlands have been granted their formal foot-and-mouth-free status by the International Office of Epizootics (OIE) which meets next week in Paris.

The issue will be discussed again at the next standing veterinary committee meeting on 25 September.

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