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Country News - 2002

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Euro "hit-squad" for future FMD outbreaks
Thursday 19 December 2002

ANY future outbreaks of foot and mouth disease or other animal health epidemics may be fought by a European "hit-squad" controlled from Brussels rather than Whitehall.

The European Commission yesterday launched proposals to take the handling of such veterinary disasters out of the hands of national Governments - which is likely to cause a heated political debate across the continent.

To hand over control for such crucial decisions to EU bureaucrats would cause widespread anger amongst British farmers - but, sadly, the Government's handling of last year's crisis was so inept that it cannot realistically oppose the move.

And the EU will argue that with the community due to expand eastwards and expand to 25 member states, a unified approach to such crisis management is essential.

Also, as we predicted yesterday, vaccination rather than mass culls will be the first line of defence in any future outbreaks. The proposals will have to be accepted by all member states before than can be put into effect.

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