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26th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe

Bern (Switzerland), 22-26 September 2014

Bern, 26 September 2014 - The 26th Conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Regional Commission for Europe, attended by 53 Member Countries from the Region, was held in Bern (Switzerland) from 22 to 26 September 2014. It was organised in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.  

Dr Karin Schwabenbauer, President of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE, Dr Monique Eloit, Deputy Director General of the OIE, Dr Ago Pärtel, Delegate of Estonia and President of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe, Prof. Nikola Belev, OIE Regional Representative for Eastern Europe, Delegates from the Member Countries of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe, representatives of concerned international and regional organisations, as well as many observers took part in the conference. 

The opening ceremony was held in the presence of Mr. Alain Berset, member of the Swiss Federal Council and Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs. 

The conference began with a brief report on the activities of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe, followed by those of the Regional and Sub-Regional Representations.

The participants discussed several key issues involving the Member Countries of the region, with special emphasis on the following matters:

  • the control of food and mouth disease in Eastern Europe, as well as in the Maghreb countries, in the framework of the Global Strategy promoted jointly by the OIE and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO);  
  • the evolution and prevention of African Swine Fever, which has been affecting several countries of the region since early 2014;   
  • the new international procedure to facilitate and harmonise the international movement of competition horses, based on the concept of a "high-health, high-performance" sub-population of horses;
  • the enhanced participation of all Member Countries of the region in OIE standard-setting activities concerning animal diseases and animal welfare;
  • the OIE's "one health" approach;
  • the preparation of the OIE's 6th Strategic Plan (2016-2020), and its perspectives for the European region.  

The new OIE Regional Platform on animal welfare for Europe was then presented to the Assembly. Focusing notably on the management of stray dog populations and on conditions for transport and slaughter of farm animals, it aims at harmonising the approaches of the countries of the region to animal welfare and the implementation of OIE standards. 

The participants received detailed information on the zoosanitary situation and developments in all the countries of the region, gathered through the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS). They then discussed the following technical items:

  • ‘Animal health in the context of natural disasters and bio-terrorism" and "porcine epidemic diarrhoea: current situation in the world and potential threat to Europe’.   

‘Natural or man-made disasters have considerable repercussions on animal and human health, and on the economies of all our societies’ recalled Dr. Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE. ‘Local or regional conflicts, flooding in Europe, global warming and many other factors underscore the need to develop national disaster management plans that integrate questions of animal health, animal welfare and veterinary public health. In this context, Veterinary Services and their partners as well as animal health experts have a prime role to play.’ 

The Conference was also an opportunity to celebrate the centennial of the founding of the Swiss Veterinary Service and the creation of the new Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), coinciding with the OIE's 90th anniversary

The discussions were fruitful and useful to all the Member Countries. The recommendations adopted will be submitted to the OIE World Assembly and its 180 national delegates in Paris, May 2015, for final ratification.