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Negotiations between Head of the Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert and Deputy Director-General for the Food Chain in DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission Ladislav Miko

The negotiations were held in Moscow. Top officials of the Rosselkhoznadzor’s central office and representatives of the Rosselkhoznadzor Administrations for St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast, spokesmen for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the European Union and of the European Union to Russia took part in the negotiations.

At the beginning the sides discussed conclusions of the technical meeting that had been held the day before and was focused on ensuring safety of seed and planting material intended for export from the EU-countries to the CU-countries. Ladislav Miko made a request to Sergey Dankvert to postpone imposition of temporary restrictions on import of seed potatoes from the 1st of April until a later date. Meanwhile, an All-European Pre-Export Certification System for such products will be established, as he assured. The system will enable tracing of such products within the European Union. In addition to it, the Rosselkhoznadzor will be provided with the information requested earlier on areas free from the objects that are recognized as quarantine in Russia. The future system shall effectively trace origin of the products and shall include tough sanctions against violators of the Russian and CU requirements, as the Russian side noted. Besides, Ladislav Miko paid attention to the fact that restrictions on import of Russian potatoes and seedlings to the European Union had been valid for 13 years then. Discussing the proposal of the DG SANCO Sergey Dankvert pointed out that they should be submitted to the Russian side in writing. After competent services of the CU-countries study the proposals, a legally binding document will be elaborated to provide details on the system ensuring safety of quarantine seed and planting materials. The documents shall be signed by representatives of the two sides. The document shall cover the whole chain of necessary control measures including active monitoring of the product safety, as Sergey Dankvert noted. Proposals put forward by the DG SANCO will be considered at the technical negotiations planned for the second half of March. As for an option to postpone temporary restrictions, Sergey Dankvert agreed on a two-month postponement until the first of June, taking into account position of the Russian Potato Association. At the same time he reminded that according to the results of safety monitoring carried out by the Rosselkhoznadzor not only seed but also table potatoes posed a high phytosanitary risk during import from the EU-countries. Over the last three years the Rosselkhoznadzor has detected within its monitoring activities 58 commercial consignments of potatoes infested with nematodes and potato moth that are recognized as quarantine objects for Russia, as Sergey Dankvert said. In response to Ladislav Miko’s comment that the DG SANCO had not received such notifications, Sergey Dankvert noted that it was another evidence of inefficiency of the All-European System for Phytosanitary Safety because competent authorities of the exporting country were immediately notified of every single case.

Thus, if effective guarantees on behalf of the EU and an effective system ensuring safety of quarantine products are absent, temporary restrictions will be imposed on import of seed and table potatoes, planting materials and potted plants to Russia and the CU-countries on the first of June this year, as Sergey Dankvert said. 

A lot of attention was paid to a possibility to lift temporary restrictions imposed on import of live animals from the EU to Russia. Ladislav Miko proposed to audit systems ensuring safety of cattle exported from some EU-countries in the shortest possible time. Lithuania was proposed as the first candidate for such an audit. Similar audits may be further carried out in Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Denmark.

The Rosselkhoznadzor is rather seriously concerned about a large-scale adulteration of meat products detected almost in all the EU-members. As reported horse meat has so far been detected in 35 types of finished meat products that shall contain beef only. Ladislav Miko assured that was a mere fraud with distorted information on products labels that did not certainly affect safety of the products. Sergey Dankvert disagreed and said that the events demonstrated complete failure of the All-European Product Tracing System that cannot accurately establish the origin of food staples or products. Thus, food staples of unknown origin and doubtful quality can get into food chain. In addition, Sergey Dankvert noted that the Rosselkhoznadzor, despite its requests, had not yet received the list of European plants which products were considered adulterated.

When the discussion turned to harmonization of veterinary certificates, both sides mentioned that their cooperation was rather fruitful. When discussing import of raw intestines and intestine casings to Russia, Ladislav Miko informed Sergey Dankvert that a new tracing system is being established by the European trade associations. The system, which is to be evaluated by the DG SANCO, will prevent supplies of products produced or processed in third countries. Total amount of such products suddenly decreased, after the Rosselkhoznadzor detected a large-scale falsification of information in veterinary certificates. 

Discussing an option of putting new EU plants on the List of establishments approved to export their products to Russia and to the other CU-countries, Ladislav Miko proposed putting plants interested in such export on the corresponding list, after they are inspected by the Rosselkhoznadzor and the veterinary services of Belarus and Kazakhstan. Alongside with it, Sergey Dankvert noticed that in accordance with the WTO rules Russia is entitled to audit systems ensuring safety in countries importing regulated products to its territory. He reminded that the European Commission had conducted such an audit in Russia and it took them 9 years to audit production of poultry meat. The Rosselkhoznadzor is ready to consider the request of the European Commission to carry out such an audit in the EU-countries, after a corresponding written application is received, as Sergey Dankvert said.

Discussing safety of German products intended for the Russian market, Ladislav Miko drew attention to serious improvements resulting from cooperation between German veterinary services and the DG SANCO. In response Sergey Dankvert pointed out that 15 violations of the Russian law had been detected during import of products from Germany since the beginning of the year. In his opinion, these are German veterinary services that are responsible for safety of products exported from Germany, therefore, it would be more productive if there would be direct cooperation between the Rosselkhoznadzor and the services, in contrast to indirect cooperation through the all-European structures. He mentioned that the next inspection mission would be focused on checking effectiveness of guarantees provided by the German veterinary services in three Federal Lands. This March a similar inspection will be carried out in Spain. 

Feb 26, 2013

Categorys: Administration , Events