A new Animal Health Strategy for the European Union (2007-2013) where “prevention is better than cure”

By The European Commission. The new Animal Health Strategy provides the framework for animal health and welfare measures over the next six years. Given the devastating impact that serious disease outbreaks can have on farmers, society and the economy, the new strategy is based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure”.
calendar icon 28 October 2007
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Underlying principles: Partnership and Communication
Catergorisation of animal-related threats

Pillar 1
Defining Priorities

Catergorisation of animal-related threats

Pillar 2
A Modern Legal Framework

A single and clearer regulatory framework
Developing efficient cost and responsibility sharing schemes
Community influence on International standards
Towards an export stratergy at community level

Pillar 3
Threat Prevention, Surveillance and Emergency Preparedness
Supporting on farm biosecurity measures
Identification and tracing
Better border biosecurity
Surveillance and chrisais preparedness/management

Pillar 4
Science, Innovation and Research

Innovation and research
Extra Information

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The aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they do occur.

The new strategy encompasses much more than just the control of animal diseases, however. It also focuses on issues which are inextricably linked to animal health, such as public health, food safety, animal welfare, sustainable development and research.

Priorities will be re-evaluated to ensure that funding and resources are employed in areas of most benefit to European citizens. Moreover, all those involved with animal health will have clear responsibilities in ensuring that the goals of the new strategy are met. The result will be an EU animal health policy that is robust, efficient and effective.


Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health

I warmly welcome the launch of the European Commission’s Animal Health Strategy. For the first time the Commission has set out its strategic aims and objectives for animal health, to cover the next six years.

I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the Strategy, especially the European Parliament first for encouraging the Commission to undertake an evaluation of Community Animal Health Policy, and second for its financial support.

This Strategy was devised following an independent evaluation of Community Animal Health Policy. The evaluation examined where and how our current systems and approach might be improved. I am delighted that the consultation on the evaluation report attracted a wealth of contributions.

Significant advances in Community animal health have been made in recent years. A fragmented national approach to disease control has been steadily replaced through progressive harmonisation of animal health measures and systems of disease surveillance, diagnosis and control.

We now have a fully harmonised EU legal framework for trade in live animals and animal products. Its added value has become increasingly evident as it has contributed greatly to the eradication of many serious diseases and has enabled the single market in animals and animal products to function properly and, most importantly, safely.

Animal health is a concern for all European citizens. This concern stems from the public health and food safety aspects of animal health but also from the economic costs that animal disease outbreaks can trigger and the animal welfare considerations, including the implications of disease control.

The evaluation confirms the steady progress made over the years. The report makes important recommendations for the future – not least the need for clear strategic objectives, the sharing of responsibility and costs, and prioritisation of EU action based on transparent assessment of risks to public health and animal health and welfare.

This Communication adapts the Commission’s approach to these challenges. It sets out a commitment to develop policies and deliver results in partnership with interested parties.

  • Producers, consumers and other stakeholders will play a key role in the determination of EU action on animal health and welfare.
  • A renewed focus on action to prevent diseases, will provide incentives to reduce the risks to animal health and welfare.
  • Risk based controls on imports to the EU will minimise the threat of major animal diseases being introduced into the Community.
  • Greater clarity of responsibility for action will support the achievement of agreed targets, with costs shared between all those who benefit.
  • Progress will be actively monitored, with targets and performance indicators determined from the outset.

In short, we aim to provide the best possible framework for animal disease control in Europe, based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure”. This approach also takes into account our international commitments and seeks to improve the coherence between the Community Animal Heath Policy and other EU policies.

The Commission fully recognises that it cannot achieve these objectives by acting alone. To achieve success, we need to deepen and strengthen the existing collaborative approach, maintaining effective partnerships at all levels.

All those with an interest in animal health will have their role to play and responsibilities to fulfil in optimising performance and results.

Together we can look forward with renewed confidence to a better targeted and more streamlined approach to all aspects of animal health.

Markos Kyprianou,

Commissioner for Health


In December 2004, the Commission launched an external evaluation to thoroughly review the outcomes of EU action on animal health and the direction we may wish to take in the future. A combination of circumstances made it imperative to re-evaluate our policy:

  • The main elements of the existing policy were drawn up largely between 1988 and 1995 when we were still a Community of twelve Member States;
  • New challenges have emerged. Diseases which were unknown a decade ago have appeared – SARS is an example – while others, such as foot and mouth disease, bluetongue and avian flu, have recently presented new challenges, reminding us that they remain very serious risks;
  • Trading conditions have also changed radically with the volume of trade in animal products increasing greatly, both within the EU and with third countries; and
  • Science, technology and our institutional framework have evolved substantially.

A challenging EU Animal Health Strategy (2007-2013)

Based on the evaluation results and the stakeholder consultation, the Commission is pleased to present its proposal for a new EU Animal Health Strategy (2007-2013). This will allow further debate in the EU inter-institutional fora, with Council and the Parliament expected to establish their positions by the end of this year. Overall, the strategy encompasses a challenging 6 year programme of work aimed towards clear outcomes:

  • Prioritisation of EU intervention;
  • A modern and appropriate animal health framework;
  • Better prevention, surveillance and crisis preparedness;
  • Science, Innovation and Research.

The timetable for delivery of all the specific actions included in this strategy will depend on the position of the Council and the Parliament, and also on our human resources capacity.

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October 2007
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