Food Affected by Chernobyl 

The Commission has proposed to extend agricultural import restrictions on affected goods. This is in response to evidence that certain products originating in countries affected by the Chernobyl accident still have radioactive caesium contamination that exceeds the maximum permitted levels (as laid down in Regulation (EC) No 733/2008).

Background

In the wake of the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the Council adopted a Regulation provisionally suspending the import of certain agricultural products originating outside the EEC. This Regulation laid down maximum permitted levels for radioactive caesium in imported products, compliance with which had to be checked by the importing Member States.

From the end of 1987 onwards, the Council introduced Article 133 (ex-113) of the EC Treaty as the legal basis for adopting Regulations extending the period of validity of the control system. The legislative corner-stone for this was Council Regulation (EEC) No 737/90, which was adopted in 1990

This Regulation restricting imports as a result of the Chernobyl disaster has been amended under the comitology procedure on several occasions. This has helped to better define the scope of the control system and, in particular, the list of agricultural products originating in third countries which must be subject to checks at the borders of the EU. This list has evolved over time and currently includes certain live animals for slaughter, meat (including wild game), dairy products, natural honey, non-cultivated mushrooms and certain wild berries

Aim of the Regulation

Regulation (EC) No 733/2008 is the codified version of repealed Regulation (EEC) No 737/90 on the conditions governing imports of agricultural products originating in third countries following the Chernobyl accident. The Regulation expires on 31 March 2010

The aim of this proposed Council Regulation is to extend, by ten years, the system for checking compliance with the maximum permitted levels of radioactivity in agricultural products, as laid down by Regulation (EC) No 733/2008. Member States are obliged to check compliance with the maximum levels laid down in this Regulation for the import of various foodstuffs.

Another aim of this proposed Regulation is to clarify the point that Council Regulation (Euratom) No 3954/87 allows for the introduction of more generalised restrictions in the event of a future nuclear accident or radiological emergency. If the introduction of such restrictions created discrepancies with the restrictions set out in Regulation (EC) No 733/2008, this proposed Regulation makes it clear that Regulation 733/2008 would automatically be repealed

Extending Import restrictions until 2020

This proposal for a Council Regulation would therefore extend the system for checking compliance with the maximum permitted levels of radioactivity in certain agricultural products until 31 March 2020.

An extension of import restrictions is considered necessary because the radioactive caesium contamination of certain products originating in non-EU countries most affected by the Chernobyl accident still exceeds the maximum permitted levels originally laid down in Council Regulation (EEC) No 737/90, adopted in 1990. The need for restrictions to be extended was confirmed by a study requested by the Commission. The findings were presented at the meeting of the ad hoc Committee set up under article 5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 733/2008 (previous Article 7 of Regulation (EEC) No 737/90), which took place in December 2007. The advisory group of scientific experts referred to in Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty also concluded that an extension was appropriate

Basis of Decision

The Commission has based its decision to extend import restrictions principally on the Atlas of Radioactive Caesium Deposition in Europe, results of on-the-spot surveys and also on the advice of the advisory group of scientific experts referred to in Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty (i.e. the group of experts attached to the Commission).