Harmonised framework for animal health

Already for a long while, the European Union takes measures to prevent the occurrence and spreading of animal diseases. This concerns both general and specific stipulations, within the framework of certain diseases. For instance, there are certain precautionary measures against the import of the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) which currently is not yet found in Europe, but which here could cause great damage in the bee culture.

In 2007 the EU has launched a new strategy for animal health, with as starting point ‘prevention is better than cure’. The expansion of the union, the growing international trade, also from new trade areas, and the surfacing of new diseases, make this review necessary.

Today the EU disposes of a completely harmonised legal framework for the trade in livestock and animal products, which is supposed to protect animal health and enable a safe trade.

Specific attention for bee mortality

Because the bee mortality in all European member states is alarmingly high, also at this level during the last few years specific attention is given to their health and survival. Besides the discussions and resolutions, on the 1st of April 2011, the EU has designated a European Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Bee Health. The choice fell on the French ANSES-laboratory (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail).

The reference laboratory controls a network of national reference laboratories and organises a pilot monitoring program, in which the member states can voluntarily participate. In Belgium this is carried out by the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC - animal health).

The aim of this pilot study is to collect reliable and comparable data from all member states and to be able to further evaluate the state of the bee health. Based on the results the EU can decide to execute a structured and permanent monitoring.

Most important law texts concerning bee health

The most important law texts concerning animal health and veterinary legal provisions have been included in:

• Directive 82/894/EEC of the Council of the 21st of December 1982 regarding the reporting of animal diseases in the Community, altered by Decision 2004/216/EC of the Commission on the 1st of March 2004.
• Directive 92/65 of the Council of the 13th of July 1992 for determining the veterinary legal provisions for the trade and the import into the Community of animals, sperm, egg-cells and embryos, for which - as regards the veterinary legal provisions - no specific community rules have been given as meant in attachment A, under I, of Directive 90/425/EEC.

• Regulation (EC) no 1398/2003 of the Commission of the 5th of August 2003 for the alteration of the attachment A of directive 92/65/EEC of the Council, in order to include herein the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), the tropilaelaps infestation of honey bees (Tropilaelaps spp.), ebola and monkey pox.

• Decision (2010/270/EU) of the Commission of the 6th of May 2010 for the alteration of the parts 1 and 2 of attachment E of the Directive 92/65/EEC of the Council, regarding the models of health certificates for farm animals and for bees and bumblebees.

• Regulation 206/2010 for the arrangement of lists of third countries and areas, or parts thereof, from which certain animals and fresh meat may be brought into the European Union, and of the provisions regarding veterinary certification. Altered by regulation (EU) no 810/2010 of the Commission of the 15th of September 2010.

• Decision 2003/881/EC of the Commission of the 11th of December 2003 regarding the veterinary legal provisions and the certification conditions for the import of bees and bumblebees (Apis mellifera et Bombus spp.) from certain third countries and for the cancellation of Decision 2000/462/EC of the Commission.

Decision of the Commission of the 20th of January 2005 for the alteration of the Decision 2003/881/EC concerning the veterinary legal provisions and the certification conditions for the import of bees and bumblebees from certain third countries, regarding the United States of America (2005/60/EC).