Last Friday’s (March 14) meeting in Madrid between Russian and EU officials to discuss the continuing export ban on pork products failed to provide any positive developments.
The head of Russia’s veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergey Dankvert, and the head of the EU’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection, Paola Testori Koji, appear to remain miles apart on reaching a solution to the issue, which is causing increasing hardship to the Russian pork processing sector as well as depressing price in the EU.
The Rosselkhoznadzor website reported after the meeting that there was nothing the organisation could do because the EU veterinary certificate for the export of pork quite clearly stated pork products may only exported only from the EU territory that had been free from ASF during past three years (excluding Sardinia where ASF is endemic).
This provision, Rosselkhoznadzor said, means the EU can’t simply apply regionalisation by declaring ares that are free from ASF and expect Russia to resume imports from these areas.
The Russians went further and blamed the situation on laziness on the EU’s part.
“In 2012, the European Commission (EC) had a choice whether to revise and agree new veterinary certificates or to extend current certificates signed in 2006,” Rosselkhoznadzor said. “It chose an easy way and extended old veterinary certificates for pork products notwithstanding the fact that [we]repeatedly warned the EC that the dynamics of ASF spread makes its introduction into EU territory inevitable.”
Sergey Dankvert reminded Paola Testori Koj that restrictions on export of pork products had been imposed by Russia only in relation to Lithuania and Poland, but this also affected all other EU member states as they couldn’t comply with the requirements indicated in the veterinary certificate, which didn’t envisage the regionalisation.
Rosselkhoznador said the meeting made it clear that the issue could only be resolved only by negotiations between the EC and Customs Union Commission because veterinary certificates were valid for deliveries to the whole territory of the Customs Union, but the EU refused to hold such negotiations.
It also added that the EC’s intention to take raise the issue with the World Trade Organisation was non-constructive and wouldn’t facilitate the rapid resolution of the problem.