New legislation on EU measures to control outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has been adopted by the Council of Agriculture Ministers.

The European Commission said the new directive sets out detailed measures to rapidly control and eradicate the disease and outlines procedures on recovering the status “free of FMD and infection without vaccination”, which is of vital importance for trade.

As well as measures to control an outbreak of the disease, the directive includes measures to ensure a high level of preparedness against the disease.

The directive enters into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States must comply with the provisions by 30 June 2004 at the latest.

“Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in individual Member States impact on the EU as a whole, as we saw in 2001. The new law aims to maintain or, in the event of an outbreak, quickly regain the ‘FMD-free’ status that is of key importance for trade in animals and animal products. Emergency vaccination is moved to the forefront of control measures instead of being the last resort. The new legislation is a true reform,” said David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.