Screening meeting with the European Union on Chapter 12 – Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy – was concluded in Brussels yesterday. At the meeting, which was the latter one of two, experts from Iceland and the EU compared the Icelandic legislation with the EU legislation falling under the Chapter. At the meeting, the implementation of rules in the area of food safety in Iceland was discussed but being part of the EEA-Agreement Iceland has already implemented large part of the acquis under this Chapter. The Icelandic team was headed by Ms. Bryndis Kjartansdottir, chairperson of EEA I negotiation team.
The Icelandic experts described i.e. existing legislation, programming, institutional framework, financial management and control and administrative capacity in the context of the EU food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy.
There are some differences between the Icelandic and EU rules concerning food safety. The Icelandic experts highlighted these differences, with special focus on animal diseases and importation of livestock, in accordance with the Opinion of the majority of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament. Special attention was brought to the fact that many of the diseases found in livestock abroad are barely known in Iceland.
On the basis of the EEA Agreement Iceland negotiated some exemptions which further continuation is considered important, e.g.:
- Exemption from EU rules on trade with live animals
- Exemption to ban the import of meat- and bonemeal, and products which contain any such ingredients.
- Exemption concerning cultivation of livestock considered to have gene carrier against scrapie
- Residue testing of pesticides
- Regulation which authorizes the use of fishmeal as feed for ruminants in Iceland
- Regulation concerning maximum leves of dioxin in fish oil
Also special attention was brought additional guarantees as regards salmonella in meat and eggs and special measures against campylobacter in poultry. The Icelandic experts introduced current restrictions found in Icelandic laws on the import of raw meat and eggs, non-disinfected raw skins and hides. The aim is to safeguard the current state of disease prevention for animals and humans, especially with regard to prolonged isolation of livestock.
The same applies to the import ban on plants intended for the cultivation of vegetable in green houses due to the risk of transmits of harmful organisms. Also there is an import ban on certain forest tree genus. Attention was brought to the importance of continued utilization of genotypes for forestry and old potato varieties which have suited well for cultivation in Iceland.
The possibility of not introducing wholly or partially or postpone the adoption of EU legislation which covers seeds and propagating material was discussed. The requirements to use such measures would generally be that the plants which the EU legislation covers is not marketed in Iceland and the species themselves are either not cultivated or only negligibly.
Also discussion took place about the need for temporary adjustment time for the adoption of legislation concerning plant health, or at least postponement of part of its adoption.