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Parliamentary questions
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9 July 2020
 E-001856/2020
Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-001856/2020

According to the information available at this stage, China has closed many of the so-called wet markets, including in Wuhan and surrounding areas, and has taken measures to ban certain forms of trade in wild animals. The Commission welcomes the measures taken to prevent the possible spread of zoonotic diseases.

The Commission also welcomes the allocation by the Chinese central government of more than 10 billion yuan (ca. EUR 1.3 billion) this year to improve the living environment in rural areas and to promote public health as well as the prevention and control of epidemics.

The Commission encourages better regulation of domestic trade in wild animals as well as better supervision and enforcement, but the decision to close any particular markets belongs to the countries concerned.

In any case, for wild animals legally imported in the EU potential risks to public health, animal health and food safety in the EU are mitigated, as they need to comply with EU(1) or national rules on the basis of international standards(2) and scientific risk assessments(3).

Already since times before the COVID-19 outbreak, the EU has been working, in the context of a bilateral project, with organisations in China to reduce demand for illegally-traded wildlife products, focusing inter alia on pangolin scales. The new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030(4) confirms the commitment to step up the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

The Commission will continue to cooperate intensively with the World Health Organisation and other partners, including China, in sharing scientific information on the source and spread of COVID-19 and best practices for its control.

(1)E.g. Council Directive 92/65/EEC of 13 July 1992 laying down animal health requirements governing trade in and imports into the Community of animals, semen, ova and embryos not subject to animal health requirements laid down in specific Community rules referred to in Annex A (I) to Directive 90/425/EEC, OJ L 268, 14.9.1992, p. 5454‐72.
(2)World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WTO SPS Committee.
(3)E.g. Scientific opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
(4)https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/strategy/index_en.htm
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