In a joint statement, released yesterday, Trade Commissioner De Gucht and Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Dalli expressed “deep disappointment” over Russia’s decision, and called for its “immediate lifting”.
“The European Commission considers that Russia is sending a very negative signal to its international trade partners on its seriousness towards the [World Trade Organisation] – given its pending accession to the international trade body,” they said, adding that they had both written to the Russian government to express Europe’s concerns.
The Commissioners pointed out that Russia’s justification of the ban by the Schmallenberg and bluetongue viruses was made irrelevant by the fact that the restrictions applied to pigs, a species not affected by these two diseases.
“The trade in these live animals from the EU has in no way endangered the health of citizens of the Russian Federation and these restrictions are therefore not based upon scientific fact, necessity or proportionality in any way,” the Commissioners added.
According to them, EU exports of live animals – pig, cattle, sheep, and goats – to Russia totalled €188m in 2011, €75m of which are affected by the ban.