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Regional harmonisation of food safety standards – the EU experience. World Bank Regional Workshop Boao, China 26 – 27 June 2006 Wolf Maier, European Commission, Health and Consumer Protection. “ Countries don’t have friends – countries have interests” (Otto von Bismarck, 1915-1898)

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Regional harmonisation of food safety standards – the EU experience

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Regional harmonisation of food safety standards the eu experience l.jpg

Regional harmonisation of food safety standards – the EU experience

World Bank Regional Workshop Boao, China 26 – 27 June 2006 Wolf Maier, European Commission, Health and Consumer Protection


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“Countries don’t have friends –countries have interests”

(Otto von Bismarck, 1915-1898)

Is regional harmonisation in our interest?


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Bilateral Trade Patterns

  • Multiple Standards

    • Non-transparent market access conditions

    • High cost of compliance

    • High vulnerability – no alternative markets

  • Narrow product range

  • Low volumes

    • No economies of scale


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Export to EU and the multilateral system

  • Big markets

  • International and National Standards apply

  • Informal Standards (GAPs, others)

  • Product range limited - SPS issues (e.g. cooked poultry)

  • EU, US, Japan are not growing and are consumer markets

    • Vulnerable to fluctuations, hypes and fashions

    • Market entry – high cost of compliance

    • Strong competition


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Regional Trade

  • Potentially much bigger market than EU

  • Diversification, broader product range

  • More value-added, processed products

    • Regional Product Standards

    • Regional consumer preferences

    • Regional markets

    • Regional economic growth


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Regional Market Integration

  • Market conditions to create more competitive companies and better-served consumers

  • Strengthens your position in multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations as you have a lot to trade with

  • Some challenges cannot be met unilaterally

  • Promotes stability

    • Greater independence from currency fluctuations

    • Insultation from commodity price shocks


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Equivalence Agreements vs Harmonisation

  • 10 countries need 45 Equivalence Agreements (under the condition of reciprocity)

  • 90 permutations for inspection and controls

  • Vulnerable to political pressure and retaliation

  • Labour intensive, non-transparent, costly

  • Harmonised rules – one set of standards

  • Animal health challenges demand consistent strategies on a regional scale


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Political perspectives

  • Emerging countries will be big winners of Doha round, but SPS issues will continue to limit market access

  • Regional markets remain important

    • economic risk management

    • broader commodity range

    • Small and medium size enterprises

  • Harmonisation of standards is key to cut cost and develop these markets

  • Increasing responsibility for global peace and development goals – address ASEAN disparities


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Possible regional standards

  • Animal HealthFoot and mouth disease, avian influenza

  • Plant HealthMeasures adapted to endemic situation

  • Plant Protection Product authorisation, MRLs, GAPs

  • Public Health Microbial Standards, HACCP, GMP

  • Informal StandardsQuality parameters


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Prioritisation

  • Current trade defines de-facto standards

  • Identification of priority products for Regional Trade

  • Involvement of Private Sector

    • Priority setting

    • No disruption of existing trade

    • Identification of needs to expand opportunities

    • Capacity building and technical assistance

  • Stepwise expansion of harmonised areas

  • Animal health is frequently the most important problem


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Elements for Standard Setting

  • Standard definition – for example CODEX

  • Translation into national rules

  • Implementation, Monitoring and Enforcement – Institutional capacity

  • Certification

  • Mutual inspection and control

  • Dispute settlement

    How can these elements be organised?


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Elements of Inspection and Controls

  • Inspections should be made:

    • By separate body, independent to political pressures

    • On a regular basis and with a frequency based on risk

    • Without prior warning (as a general rule)

  • Effective official controls should be characterised by

    • Staff free from personal interest

    • Transparency, reporting

    • Internal audits, Documented procedures

    • Continuous training of staff


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Harmonisation in the EU

  • Public health: Started 1964 on fresh pork and beef

  • Animal Health:Started also 1964 on pigs and cattle

  • Plant health: Started 1977, overhauled in 2000

  • Pesticides:Harmonised rules adopted 1991 after 10 years of negotiation. Overhaul imminent.

  • Border Inspection for imports from third countries: Harmonised since 1990Rapid Alert System established.


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Main elements of the Single Market

  • The Single Market is NOT built on trust.It is built on permanent scrutiny and controls

  • The EU Commission moderates the Standard Setting and has the right to make proposals

  • Independent advice provides credibility

  • Elaborate system of majority ruling gives adequate weight to the small Member States

  • COM and FVO ensure consistent implementation of the harmonised rules

  • Fair and independent dispute settlement mechanisms

  • Democratic legitimation via EU Parliament


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Management: The Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health

  • Chaired by the Commission.

  • Risk management body of government experts from all 25 Member States (plus candidates).

  • Votes on draft legislation to be adopted by Commission in the area of animal health, public health, plants.

  • Rapid procedures, 2-3 meetings per month in Brussels,around 300 standards and legislations per year

  • Extra powers for Commission to manage crises.

  • Dispute settlement: SCOFCAH provides first instance, European Court of Justice last resort.


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Control: Food and Veterinary Office

  • Located in Grange / Ireland. Around 160 staff

  • 200 inspections per year

  • 75% of inspections are in Member States;

  • ensure that Community legislation on food safety, animal health, plant health and animal welfare is properly enforced;

  • audit of quality of national inspection and control services;

  • check on compliance within the EU and in third countries;

  • inform stakeholders of the outcome of evaluations

  • Reports are discussed in the Standing Committee and follow up action is surveyed.


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Alternative solutions

Mutual recognition of third party audits of establishments (e.g. Japan, EU, US export certification)

Recognition of ASEAN audits and inspection

Third party certification and audit

A la carte system of regional standards, open to be joined any time, step by step.

Compartmentalisation

Avian flu may be an opportunity to get started

Dispute settlement mechanisms are important:Lessons to be learned from NAFTA vs EU system?


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Summary

  • Multilateral and regional standard setting offer unique opportunities to ASEAN (plus 2?)

  • Regional market integration has advantages

  • Harmonisation is a rational strategy

  • No need to copy the EU model – but it works

  • Controls are better than trust

  • Integration can be built step by step, product by product - priorities are needed

  • Because it takes time, it is important to start now and keep the process alive


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Documentation on the web

General Information, link to FVO:http://ec.europa.eu/food/index_en.htm

Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health:http://ec.europa.eu/food/committees/regulatory/index_en.htm

Import Conditions:http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/trade/index_en.htm

European Food Safety Authority:http://www.efsa.eu.int

And if all fails, [email protected]


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