, BRUSSELS, Aug 23 – The European Commission urged Russia on Thursday to end a contested ban on live cattle and pigs from certain EU states, saying it would otherwise be in breach of its newly-secured World Trade Organization membership.
Roger Waite, spokesman for European Union agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos, said it expects that Wednesday’s formal accession “will lead to Russia respecting the basic principles of” a WTO agreement covering how governments can apply food safety and animal and plant health measures, known as sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures.
These concern “namely scientific justification, risk assessment, proportionality and non-discrimination” rules, the basis for decisions that the EU has argued were not respected when Moscow carried out banned the animal imports.
The spokesman said that in order to be fully in compliance with its WTO accession, after an 18-year entry process, Russia must “remove the unjustified restrictions,” initially blamed on Schmallenberg virus.
WTO commitments now applicable for Russia include “the removal of the requirement for dairy or casings exporting establishments to be authorised by Russia to allow market access,” Waite said.
However, he said there is concern within the Commission that the Russian veterinary service “intends to maintain” Russian market access requirements “for some time after the date of accession.”
The Commission says restrictions blamed on Schmallenberg mainly concern the Netherlands, Germany and to a much lesser extent France.
Russian blocks on pigs for slaughter and piglets for fattening mainly hit former Soviet satellite states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in that order.