The European Commission has strengthened measures to protect the EU against bird flu, by extending existing bans on the import of live captive birds and the import of poultry products from China, Thailand and Malaysia.
The import bans on poultry products from the three Asian countries will remain in place until 31 December 2007. These restrictions are still deemed necessary due to the fact that the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus is still present in South East Asia.
EU safeguard measures against avian influenza taken in relation to Turkish exports will also be prolonged until 31 December 2006. These measures can be reviewed in the mean time depending on the evolution of the disease in the world.
For Croatia, the safeguard measures in place have been amended, so that when Croatia detects a case of avian influenza in wild birds, the import restrictions will only apply to regions for which the Croatian authorities apply restrictions themselves.
The ban on the import of live captive birds and the movement restrictions on pet birds entering the EU from third countries has been extended until 31 December 2006. This import ban on captive birds (birds other than poultry for commercial purposes) was first agreed on in October 2005. Some countries are exempt from the restrictions, including Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Croatia, Andorra, Iceland, Greenland, Faeroe Islands and San Marino.
The ban has been prolonged to take into account the scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the animal health and animal welfare risks associated with the import of birds other than poultry into the Community. This opinion is expected at the end of October and it will guide the future policy of the EU on the animal health and animal welfare aspects of these imports.