The European Commission is calling once more on the Russian Federation to engage in constructive talks on the issue of the Russian ban on EU pig exports.

Last month Russia announced it had stopped the import of pork and pig meat from EU countries, including Ireland, following an outbreak of African swine fever virus in Lithuania.

According to the European Commission, immediate action was taken to prevent the further spread of the disease from the infected areas in Lithuania.

In a statement today, EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, said: “Latest scientific evidence shows that these two Lithuanian cases of ASF are linked to the unsuccessful attempts to control the prolonged presence of ASF in the western regions of Russia and the recent introduction of the disease in Belarus.

He continued: “No information or evidence has been provided by the Russians about measures taken to contain any risk of further spread of the disease into the EU.”

The commissioner stressed that Russia has imposed unprecedented trade restrictions on the export of pigs and pig meat from all 28 EU member states, even though the occurrence of the disease is restricted to only a limited area of Lithuania.

“These restrictions, apart from having a serious economic impact on European business operators, are also disproportionate and contrary to international trade principles.”

Imposed two weeks ago by Russia, the trade embargo continues to apply despite an as yet unsuccessful request to meet my Russian counterpart and hold discussions at senior official and technical level, the commissioner added.  “Attempts to agree on a basis for co-operation, which includes limiting the trade restriction solely to the infected area have so far been rejected. I call once more on the Russian Federation to engage in constructive talks on the issue in view of finding a satisfactory resolution.”

In conclusion, he said view of the reassurances provided, the surveillance and control efforts made, and the outstanding health status of all non-affected EU regions, a blanket ban is completely disproportionate.