Written QeA to EU Commission – EU observatory on traceability on preserved tuna imports?

Question for written answer to the Commission

José Blanco López (S&D) – 9 February 2015

Subject:  Need for a Community observatory on traceability to monitor preserved tuna imports to the EU

According to various studies carried out by Interatún and other laboratories with links to the Spanish tuna canning sector, which is responsible for 67% of EU production and 20.140 direct jobs, 85% of the imported preserved tuna that is marketed in the EU does not comply with the obligatory rules for retail sales.

It should be pointed out that, of the 733.000 tonnes of preserved tuna consumed in Europe last year, over half, specifically 383.000 tonnes, came from third countries. According to the sector’s estimations, Spain, which produces 235.000 tonnes, could produce 146.600 tonnes more and create another 8.435 direct jobs if imports that fail to comply with the hygiene-sanitary standards required from Member States were banned from the EU market.

The tuna canning sector therefore proposes that a Community observatory on traceability should be set up, which it estimates could reduce our dependence on preserved tuna imports by 20% in the EU.

Are there any plans in this regard?

What measures of control are currently applied and with what results?

Are any new measures of control planned?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 5 May 2015

Under European Union legislation on fisheries control and on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU)(1), marine fisheries and aquaculture products imported into the Union for human consumption must comply with Union’s traceability standards. In so doing, it is also possible to ensure the legality of the catches. These products must be accompanied by a catch certificate validated by the vessel flag State certifying that such catches have been made in accordance with applicable conservation and management measures. The level of verification carried out by the Member States has improved significantly and has seen more than 200 refusals of importation, since 2010.

Insofar as the health area is concerned, all products of animal origin imported into the Union are subject to compulsory veterinary checks in border inspection posts (BIPs) to ensure that they comply with the relevant import conditions. Imports must meet sanitary requirements which are at least equivalent to those provided for in Union legislation(2). Inspectors carry out documentary, identity and physical checks, including the verification of the labelling and the traceability of the products to verify this. In 2014, 15.441 consignments of preserved tuna in cans were checked in Union BIPs, of which 54 were rejected. This indicates that more than 99% of all imported consignments were compliant with Union health legislation.

Given these satisfactory results, both in the fields of IUU or health legislation, it is not planned to organise a Union observatory on traceability for imported preserved tuna.

Import controls will be maintained at the same level of vigilance and any increase in the occurrence of rejections will result in appropriate measures laid down in Union legislation.

 

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20.11.2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy, OJ L 343/1, 22.12.2009 — Cf. in particular Article 58 and Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29.9.2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, OJ L 286/1, 29.10.2008.
(2) Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28.1.2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety, OJ L 31, 1.2.2002 — Cf. in particular Article 11.

(Source: EU Parliament)

FVO Report – Import Controls in Hungary

This report describes the outcome of an audit carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in Hungary from 25 March to 1 April 2014 to assess how the competent authorities evaluate the performance and effectiveness of their system of official import controls (regarding live animals and products of animal origin).

The report concludes that the Hungarian authority is developing the activities for verification of effectiveness of the official import controls including the setting of relevant objectives and indicators to measure the extent to which these objectives are met.

The verification activities do not ensure compliance of the official import controls with EU legislation. This is due to the lack of implementation of verification in some border inspection posts (BIPs) for a long period of time. The competent authority has not considered the risk of absence of verification of the official import controls and has not planned such activities for a period of two years. The above undermine the verification of effectiveness of the official import controls as required by article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004/EC.

The results of the verification activities are foreseen to be used for planning of the official controls and also on planning future verification activities. Activities like performance assessment of personnel, national database (EVIR) to monitor the output of the audits are potential tools to assess effectiveness of the official import controls, not currently used as such. In addition, process
and performance audits as foreseen in the new Quality management procedure can be a means of assessment of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the official import controls.