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C 261 E/52

Official Journal of the European Communities



(2001/C 261 E/055)


by Stefano Zappalà (PPE-DE), Antonio Tajani (PPE-DE), Guido Viceconte (PPE-DE), Mario Mauro (PPE-DE), Amalia Sartori (PPE-DE), Carlo Fatuzzo (PPE-DE), Umberto Scapagnini (PPE-DE), Renato Brunetta (PPE-DE) and Guido Podestà (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(31 January 2001)

Subject: Mad cow disease

The press is providing information on mad cow disease which is fairly comprehensive from a technical point of view, but which is incomplete from an institutional point of view.

This serious disease is not a new one, but it is only now that it is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, riding on the wave of emotion that has been aroused.

There is no scientific certainty as regards the long incubation period, the age of the cattle at risk, the inter- country movement of cattle and the effects on beef and dairy products.

Can the Commission therefore state:

1. what research investments have been made since the phenomenon first came to light (1985);

2. what degree of certainty there is with regard to the monitoring of meat movements both within the EU and in third countries;

3. what degree of certainty there is with regard to possible BSE-related human mortality over the past 15 years;

4. whether the precautions implemented by the Member States are deemed adequate on the basis of the information currently available;

5. whether it does not consider it would be appropriate to promptly step up scientific research, even if this means using unlimited resources.

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(17 April 2001)

Research on human and animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) has been supported

within the Community research programmes since 1990 with a total Community contribution of € 53 880

Programme, € 50 700 million within the

European Action Plan on TSE adopted by the Parliament and the Council in November 1996, € 1 060 million within the 5th Framework Programme). 54 research projects are running as part of the TSE Action Plan and three projects under the 5th framework programme. 15 new proposals have recently been submitted and are being evaluated.

million (€ 2 120 million during the 2nd and 3rd Framework

The Joint Research Centre of the Commission has engaged in an extensive programme for the evaluation of post-mortem tests on BSE infection and the establishment of appropriate measures for quality assurance in the ongoing monitoring programme. It is also engaged in programmes for the evaluation of methods for the detection of meat and bone meal in animal feed and for the assessment of heat treatment of animal meat and bone meal.

The rules on the production, marking, storage and transport of fresh meat in the Community are laid down in Council Directive 64/433/EEC of 26 June 1964 on health problems affecting intra Community trade in fresh meat ( 1 ). The rules on checks applied to movement of meat and other animal products within the Community and on entry from third countries are laid down in Council Directive 89/662/EC of 11 December 1989 concerning veterinary checks in intra-Community trade with a view to the completion of the internal market ( 2 ) and Council Directive 97/78/EC of 18 December 1997 laying down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from



Official Journal of the European Communities

C 261 E/53

third countries ( 3 ) respectively. In addition, further conditions apply to the labelling of beef and minced beef as to the Member State/third country and the approval number of the establishments of slaughter or cutting as appropriate. These requirements are laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No. 1760/2000 of the Parliament and of the Council of 17 July 2000 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products.

Up to early November 2000, a cumulative number of 83 deaths related to von Kreuzveldt-Jacob disease (vCJD) (81 in the United Kingdom, one in Ireland and one in France) have been reported in the Community. Microbiological/molecular biological evidence collected over recent years indicates that BSE and vCJD are most likely caused by the same (BSE) agent. This supports the hypothesis that humans probably became infected as a result of the consumption of BSE contaminated material, most likely orally (via food).

However, a number of uncertainties and unknowns, over such aspects as the transmission mechanism from animals to man, the exact nature of the infective agent and the length of the incubation period of vCJD (which could possibly vary from a few years to more than 25 years), indicate the need for further research, which is under way.

Member States are already implementing a wide range of BSE control measures introduced in recent years in the areas of SRM removal, rendering, feedstuff controls and epidemio-surveillance. On the basis of recommendations from the Scientific Steering Committee, these controls are now being strengthened with new measures on mechanically recovered meat, ruminant tallow and vertebral column.

In line with the conclusions of the Research Council of 16 November 2000, an expert group with representatives from Member States and the Joint Research Centre has been set up in order to:

examine the state of TSE research across Member States,

encourage exchange of information between research teams; and

identify on-going research topics, which need strengthening as well as new research areas.

The work of the expert group should provide the basis for strengthening the co-ordination between national research activities.

( 1 ) ( 2 ) ( 3 )

OJ B 121, 29.7.1964. OJ L 395, 30.12.1989. OJ L 24, 30.1.1998.

(2001/C 261 E/056)


by Jules Maaten (ELDR) to the Commission

(31 January 2001)

Subject: Progress reached in introducing the euro in the different Member States in the euro zone

1. The Netherlands Ministry of Finance has recently published figures (eighth progress report on the

euro and public authorities) on the lack of progress in introducing the euro by public authorities. For example, it appears that 64 % of Dutch local authorities have not yet started implementation of the euro process. Some local authorities (4 %), in fact, have not even started with their preparations. Local

authorities are lagging well behind in the fields of communications and information in particular. Only 16 % have drawn up an external communications plan and only 31 % have an internal communications plan. Only 45 % have a management plan for adjusting their administrative systems. The preparations