On 25 May 2020, the Commission released the findings of a September 2019 audit of Canadian cattle farms producing meat for the European market. The auditors’ conclusions are worrying: shortcomings in ensuring livestock traceability, Canadian databases that do not allow the effective tracking of animals in the ‘hormone-free’ chain, possible conflicts of interest among veterinarians responsible for assessing compliance with health standards, among other issues. The auditors conclude that the current system ‘is not able to provide the guarantees that only fully compliant establishments continue to be listed for export to the EU’.
On 24 September 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Yannick Jadot, Benoit Biteau, Claude Gruffat, Francois Alfonsi, Damien Careme, Caroline Roose, Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Marie Toussaint, Karima Delli, David Cormand, Michele Rivasi, Mounir Satouri, Salima Yenbou, Saskia Bricmont and Tilly Metz of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance posed a joint parliamentary question to the European Commission.
Given that growth hormones are banned in the EU, the MEPs asked the Commission “when does it plan to suspend Canadian beef imports, so as to enforce EU law?” and “what does it intend to do to recall and dispose of non-compliant Canadian meat entering the EU?”
In closing, the Parliamentarians also enquired “what legal and inspection safeguards will the Commission provide to ensure product traceability in the context of EU trade agreements?”
On 23 November, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, responsible for Health and Food Safety, responded on behalf of the European Commission. She said that “the identified deficiencies have no impact on the compliance of beef with EU requirements on the non-use of hormonal growth promoters”.
Commissioner Kyriakides stated that “Canada is committed to fully address all the identified shortcomings and has put immediately in place several remedial measures” and “as Canadian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission to address the identified shortcomings, there is no reason to introduce any trade-related safeguard measures to protect public and/or animal health”. She reported that “since 2013, no positive results for residues of hormonal growth promoters have been notified in meat imported from Canada”.
Commissioner Kyriakides underlined that “the Commission follows closely the developments in Canada and is monitoring the situation in order to ensure that appropriate remedial actions are taken” and “following an assessment by the Commission of the complete list of follow-up actions undertaken by Canada, the Commission will determine whether a follow-up audit would be warranted”. She also reported that “Commission audits in third countries verify the capacity of the control authorities to ensure compliance of agri-food products with EU requirements” and “in the event that there is a serious threat to public or animal health, the Commission has the option of suspending trade or imposing other trade-related safeguard measures to protect public and/or animal health”. In ending, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides declared that “the process is sufficiently robust, has served the Union well over a considerable period of time, and continues to do so as demonstrated by the measures taken vis-à-vis a number of third countries in the recent past”.
Photo Credit : https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ceta/