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Europe European Parliament

Foot-and-mouth disease: review of EU non-vaccination policy

   Fri 07/09/2001

In response to question E-1195/01 in March of this year, the Commission states that it "fully supports a review of the current approach towards vaccination", but it points towards the lack of political support for such a review in both the Council and the European Parliament. The Commission states that "this lack of support reflects the well identified limitations of such a policy which include, but are not limited to, trade implications."

In April of this year, however, the European Parliament expressed its clear political support for a review in resolution PE 303.051 (European Parliament resolution on the statement of the European Commission on foot-and-mouth disease in the European Union), calling "on the Commission to review immediately the basic non-vaccination policy of the European Union".

At this time, the first week of September 2001, there is clear evidence that the FMD crisis is not yet fully contained. This fact is especially worrying, since the disease is much harder to contain in winter than in summer. In addition there is a risk that FMD is becoming endemic among wild animals in the UK.

Considering that the calculations on which the non-vaccination policy was based in 1991 took into account only one outbreak of FMD every 10 years, does the Commission agree that the very real chance of having another consecutive winter of FMD crises should lead to an urgent reconsideration of the non-vaccination policy before the winter breaks?

The Commission correctly states that trade implications are at the root of the non-vaccination policy. Would the Commission agree that the FMD crisis last winter taught us that the negative impact on many sectors of the economy far outweighs the impact that generalised prophylactic vaccination would have on EU external trade? Does the Commission agree that the economic impact of non-vaccination depends on the frequency and intensity of outbreaks? If so, where is the turning point from positive to negative economic impact?

What steps has the Commission taken so far to ensure that if a review of the non-vaccination policy should lead to generalised prophylactic vaccination, sufficient vaccine would be available at short notice should another FMD crisis break?