It has passed a regulation, using its own powers, insisting on “appropriate cleansing and disinfection of all ‘livestock vehicles’ which have transported live animals and feed and which enter the Union from Russia and Belarus…” The new law insists that “such cleansing and disinfection is to be properly documented”.
If EU Customs officials think these lorries are too dirty, they can order an on-the-spot cleansing (and make the lorry wait two days for this to happen). They can also send the lorry to a local cleaning facility before they can drive on to their EU delivery. Or, officials can block the lorry from entering the border.
The documentation carried by the exporters must show the livestock or loading compartment, truck body, loading ramp, other equipment in contact with animals, wheels, the driver’s cabin and protective clothes and boots used during unloading “have been cleansed and disinfected after the last unloading of animals”.
A Commission memorandum on the law said the tougher checks followed concerns that requirements passed in 2013 that Russian and Belarus trucks be cleaned before entering the EU were not being followed. It said EU veterinary authorities had concluded that Customs officials had special problems spotting trucks carrying animal feed, which could be contaminated with swine fever. And it was not “possible to know if those trucks have been in places which may represent a risk for the introduction of African swine fever”.
This was a problem given there had been an outbreak of the disease in Belarus, close to the border with Lithuania and Poland last June (2013). These new regulations will be in place until 31 December 2015. The current stand-off was sparked by the discovery of two wild boars with swine fever in Lithuania, close to the Belarus border.