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Union Tries to Untangle EID Red Tape Knot

NFU Scotland staff and office bearers have spent much of the past week in meetings at home and abroad trying to get to the bottom of emerging and worrying developments in the implementation of the new EU sheep electronic identification regulations.

News emerged just over a week ago that the UK’s proposed grid of sanctions – which was put together in an attempt to provide a framework for cross-compliance – had been dismissed by the European Commission because it was working to a system that breached the EU Regulation.

Arrangements had already been made for the UK unions’ livestock committee chairmen to meet on Tuesday 17 May and for the EU farm unions’ umbrella group, COPA to meet yesterday (Thursday 19 May), meaning the situation could be discussed with due urgency.  In addition, NFUS and other UK and Irish farming unions held meetings with EU Commission officials yesterday in order to try to gain direct clarification on the situation.

Speaking from Brussels, NFUS President, Nigel Miller said:

“The past few days have been pretty intensive, with discussions with colleagues from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and EU Commission officials and, latterly, livestock representatives from across the EU at COPA.

“Along with staff from our Brussels office, BAB, UK farming union representatives and I held a meeting with EU Commission staff from DG-AGRI and DG-SANCO.  The European Commission appears to be focussing principally on compliance with the detail of Regulation 21/2004, whereas the UK’s proposed ‘grid of sanctions’ - which was drafted to help producers maintain traceability under the new rules in a workable fashion with targeted, achievable cross-compliance standards - has been deemed inadmissable because it cannot deliver a 100 per cent read rate.

“Placing compliance ahead of traceability and practicality could destroy the value of the EID systems the UK has gone to so much effort to produce.  However, it is encouraging that the EU Commission is keeping the door ajar and is keen to find some kind of solution or compromise.

“The EU Commission currently sees the UK as an anomaly case because we are the only Member State to have questioned them about cross-compliance, however, the UK are the only Member State really to have stuck their head above the parapet because we are furthest on with implementation of the Regulation.  With that in mind, it was striking that at COPA’s sheep meeting, which followed our meeting with the Commission, we gained unanimous support for tolerances in read rates and flexibility in recording, which were seen as crucial by all Member States.  The French chairman of the sheep meeting deemed the issue a ‘significant priority’.”

“The procession of meetings has continued today at the EU Commission sheep experts advisory meeting where the same objections raised by officials yesterday were levelled once again.  Our current position is that we need to work at Member State level to develop workable standards before taking the issue up again with the EU Commission.”

Ends

Contact Sarah anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 86/11


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