New veterinary controls law and the impact for the European Ship Supply Industry
The new chair of the OCEAN Working Group of Veterinary Affairs, M. Geeratz, reflects on what the new EU legislation on official controls means for the European Ship Supply Industry
After a process of almost nine years in which OCEAN, the European Ship Suppliers Organization participated as one of the stakeholders in many rounds of consultations workshops, seminars, position paper exchanges and other initiatives, new rules regarding official health controls gradually became applicable with the main application entering into force on 14 December 2019. A couple of months into the new law, it's time we look and assess what these controls mean for the European Ship Supply Industry and what the impact has been.
Why specifically are ship suppliers concerned by the EU's Official Control legislation?
European ship suppliers import many goods from third countries to cater to the international crew on board of vessels. As such, OCEAN's members are affected by the European organisation of checks on meat and plant products entering the Union from third countries.
What is OCEAN's position regarding the EU regime of controls in general?
For OCEAN, it is vital to have in place flexible and straightforward legislation, notably where it concerns the working environment of our industry. When discussing with the EU Commission, over the last years, we advocated that when designing the new law, the following elements had to be carefully considered as they had a direct impact on ship supply. These are legal provisions as regards
- the storage system
- control & monitoring system
- regime EU approved & for transit approved products
- supply to vessels outside EU territory with a veterinary certificate
- issuing of veterinary certificates and 100% warehouse (entrepot) exit control.
To read more about OCEAN's position on the OCR, take a look at our Position Paper.
Why are Official Controls critical?
EU official control rules are essential to keep the agri-food chain in Europe safe. Ship suppliers deliver a diverse set of products, including all kinds of meats and meat products, to vessels calling EU ports, so we are directly concerned by the EU official control rules and have been for many years.
The EU rules provide national authorities and the European Commission with the necessary powers to enforce the requirements provided by the legislation and give them and with specific mechanisms that ensure that European ship supply companies and all other stakeholders cooperate effectively in ensuring the correct application of the law across national borders. The name of the law is The Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625.
Applied for over two years, but not implemented until the last days of 2019
The European Parliament and the Council adopted the new Official Controls Regulation on 15 March 2017. It has been in force since 27 April 2017. The new rules replaced Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls and other legislation that previously governed the control and enforcement of rules along the agri-food chain and in which the rules for ship supplies were already included.
So, what is the new law all about?
The Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625, also known as the OCR or Official Controls Regulation, aims to address official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products. The new law required an extensive set of delegated and implementing acts, 16 of them. They can be found here: Overview Delegated and Implementing acts of the EUs Official Controls Regulation
Extended scope and streamline of controls
The scope of the new Regulation has been extended to cover official controls to verify compliance with food and feed law, animal health and welfare, plant health and animal-by products rules. Businesses and enforcements authorities alike will now use a simplified framework that integrates official controls rules into a single Regulation.
The more ship suppliers reduce risk, the more authorities should let us "get on with it."
The risk-based approach to controls is maintained. Before authorities come to controls the ship suppliers, they are asked to take into account the operator's past record of compliance and the reliability of the operator's own checks, including those performed by the operator or performed by a third party at the operator's request, like in the case of private quality assurance schemes.
This means that the more we get our own "house into order," the more we can avoid external controls and minimise the burden on our businesses. In particular, the EU Commission needs to be assured that the ship supply articles (especially veterinary products), may return into the EU once exported. It is absolutely essential that ship supply articles stay on board of the ship and are not to be returned to the stock of the ship chandler without them being formally reimported again.
What can the authorities' control?
In short: About Everything. In long: All operators at all stages of production, processing, distribution and use of animals, goods, substances, materials, or objects that are governed by agri-food chain rules. This includes, of course, cold storage facilities for non-EU meat and meat products and what measures we have taken to ensure that these non-EU foods do not accidentally enter the EU market (unless they meet EU rules and have been customs and health cleared correctly).
What is expected of ship suppliers to comply with the new law when there is control?
A lot. But nothing too drastically different from what was expected before and nothing that cannot be managed, and, in fact, managed well. Ship suppliers, during official controls, are required to assist and cooperate with the controller. More specifically, to the extent necessary to perform official controls, operators must give access to Competent Authority staff to their:
- means of transport,
- documents and any other relevant information
- animals and animal goods under their controls (like frozen non-EU meat).
What about the Border Control for non-EU-meat that we need to store for our foreign vessels?
This is a little tricky, but let me try to explain it in simple words. The EU set up a common framework for carrying out border controls on animal and animal goods entering the EU. Usually, we have little to with this part; we just get the non-EU meat from the wholesaler. There are standard rules which apply to controls carried out at borders on animals, products of animal origin that must be checked before they enter the EU.
A list of all animals and animal goods subject to import health controls
The import control system is more risk-based and targeted. Hence, we may hope that it is less burdensome for our business partners to import the meats. A list of animals and goods subject to systematic controls at the border has been established (see overview above), mainly building on previous rules. This is detailed in "COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2019/2007 of 18 November 2019 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the lists of animals, products of animal origin, germinal products, animal by-products and derived products and hay and straw subject to official controls at border control posts and amending Decision 2007/275/EC."
All-In-One Controls at the new BCPs
There are now Border Control Posts (BCPs), which replace the previous both the Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) and Designated Points of Entry (DPEs), which previously carry out border control tasks. Important to note is that all consignments to be presented at the border control posts must undergo documentary checks. Identity and physical examinations are carried out at a frequency depending on the risk linked to the specific animals or goods. The criteria to determine and modify the frequency of rates have been established by the Commission. In principle, all controls must be carried out at the border control post where the consignment arrives.
Exception for a few cases
The EU Commission established the cases and conditions under which deviations from the above-mentioned principle are allowed. On example is onward transportation of animals/goods to the destination where identity can be determined by an expert away from the border control post. Details can be found in
- Del. Reg. (EU) 2019/2124 published in OJEU on 12/12/2019 on "Transit, transhipment and onward transportation through the Union."
- Del. Reg. (EU) 2019/2123 published in OJEU on 12/12/2019 "Identity and physical checks at control points Documentary checks at distance from BCP."
Meet the Common Health Entry Document (CHED)
A single standard document, the Common Health Entry Document (CHED), must be used by the importer for the prior notification of consignments. It is transmitted to the border control post through a new integrated computerised system for official controls.
Members can find a model of the CHED-P, including a description of what should be filled in in each box in Regulation 2019/1715.
Meet the Integrated Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC)
IMSOC allows the integration of all existing computerised systems (TRACES, RASFF, Europhyt, AAC), to optimise the handling and exchange of information, data and documents necessary for the enforcement of agri-food chain rules.
Uff, my head hurts, can you summarise the key provisions relevant for ship supply?
Ship chandlers are highly dependent on remaining competitive by working 'in transit.' For our trade, "COMMISSION DELEGATED REGULATION (EU) 2019/2124 of 10 October 2019 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards rules for official controls of consignments of animals and goods in transit, transhipment and onward transportation through the Union" is of particular importance. It provides details instructions rules on how to treat with agri-food products in transit, whether approved for the European free market or for transit only.
The fundamental changes for the relevance of ship suppliers can be summarised as such:
- Besides live animals and veterinary products, plants and hay/straw/wood will be subject to import controls as well. (‘Control on imported wood 'in our business usually means that if one receives products from 3rd countries on pallets or spare parts in crates, the wood should be free from pests. The most common proof is the 'ISPM-15 logo' showing a heat treatment).
- The document previously known as the "CVED" document is now called "CHED (Common Health Entry Document) and has a slighted new layout.
- The conditions for the authorisation of transit of consignments of products of animal origin, germinal products, animal by-products, derived products, hay and straw and composite products and their possible destinations, including for non-EU compliant food products have been expanded (see in particular Article 19 and following): Direct re-export outside the EU, special customs warehouse, (not just once but multiple as long as they are accredited), the military basis from NATO or USA within the EU provided that it is licensed, seagoing vessel ordestruction.
- As regards the Veterinary Certificate (VC), two changes are to be noted: It is still acting as a proof of delivery to the vessel or army base for ship suppliers and has simply received a new layout. The VC has to be returned within 15 days, but besides the paper document, electronic proof of delivery on board is acceptable as well as long as it is signed by the captain or his authorised representative. The information management system for official controls (IMSOC) acts as the electronic system of the EU for control and onward transport in transit. The Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) will find a place in this system.
The advice we can give is to keep close contact with your national food and health authority in case you intend to purchase products from outside the EU.
If you require further information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org