The Portuguese Government has announced its intention to transfer the competencies for companion animals from the Ministry of Agriculture and the General‑Directorate of Food and Veterinary Affairs (National Veterinary Authority), to the Ministry of the Environment and the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forestry.
The measure is unanimously disputed by Portuguese and international experts – namely the National Veterinary Association, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe – who are warning of serious risks to public health and animal welfare.
They say that the effectiveness of the national veterinary authority depends on the existence of a unique functionally coordinated and cohesive organic structure, which is compromised by the intention to split veterinary matters among autonomous competent authorities.
Consequently, technicians believe that Portugal might fail to honour its commitments towards the EU in the domains of animal health and welfare.
1. Do you consider this transfer to be compatible with Regulation (EU) 2016/429 requirements for official veterinary services?
2. Do you agree that this measure compromises the effective protection of public health?
3. How might a failure of Portugal to honour its commitments towards the EU in the domains of animal health and welfare and the certification of pet movements affect the other Member States?
Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (Animal Health Law)(1), as amended by Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (official controls regulation)(2), defines the competent authority as the central veterinary authority of a Member State responsible for the organisation of official controls and any other official activities in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/429 and Regulation (EU) 2017/625, or any other authority to which that responsibility has been delegated.
The organisation of services in Members States is under the national competence. Regulation (EU) 2016/429 does not interfere with the national structure and the delegation of the responsibility to another authority. However, the Member State should ensure that the tasks are performed in compliance with the rules laid down in Regulations (EU) 2016/429, Regulation (EU) 2017/625 for official controls and other official activities and in respect of non-commercial movement of pet animals in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 576/2013(3).