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In a surprise development at this week's European Union Farm Council meeting, the United Kingdom said it would not be signing up to a new 'Animal Health Law' agreed by Brussels and the European Parliament.
The law will merge and update many scattered items of old legislation, so as to help prevent and halt new outbreaks of animal diseases such as avian flu or African swine fever and keep pace with scientific progress.
"This agreement is a big step forward for the farming community. The most important achievement is that the new law will for the first time establish a clear link between animal welfare, animal health and public health.
"It is also a big step in fighting antimicrobial resistance in animals, humans and in the environment.
"Every animal owner will now have to respect good animal husbandry principles and use antibiotics responsibly.
"Finally, this law is a perfect example of simple, easy-to-read legislation that will make sense to the 25 million people whose daily lives will be affected by it," said Parliament’s rapporteur and chief negotiator on the new rules, Marit Paulsen, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Sweden.
The informal deal between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission was approved by 41 votes to one, with two abstentions - including the UK.
The UK said it had concerns about the amount of power that would be delegated to the European Commission to define technical details such as a new list of notifiable diseases.
Currently member countries are allowed a certain amount of self-determination in this respect, allowing France, for instance, to list PEDv as a notifiable disease and England to consider making a similar move in the near future.
Concern had also been expressed in the English pig sector about possibly onerous animal identification measures, as the new regulation makes general reference to electronic identification of animals.
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