STC Number - 411

Russian Federation import restrictions on certain animal products from Germany

Maintained by: Russian Federation
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2016 G/SPS/R/83 paras. 4.7-4.8
Dates subsequently raised: October 2016 (G/SPS/R/84 paras. 3.38-3.39)
March 2017 (G/SPS/R/86 paras. 3.25-3.27)
July 2017 (G/SPS/R/87 paras. 4.37-4.38)
November 2017 (G/SPS/R/88 paras. 3.43-3.44)
March 2018 (G/SPS/R/90 paras. 3.20-3.21)
July 2018 (G/SPS/R/92/Rev.1 paras. 4.62-4.63)
November 2018 (G/SPS/R/93 paras. 3.58-3.59)
Number of times subsequently raised: 7
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/1216
Products covered: 02 Meat and edible meat offal; 04 Dairy produce; birds' eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health; Risk assessment
Status: Resolved
Solution: In July 2019 (G/SPS/R/95, paras. 4.101-4.102), the European Union reported that STC No. 411 had been solved and that the bans from 2013 had been lifted. The European Union thanked the Russian Federation for its cooperation on this matter. It also acknowledged progress made in relation to STC No. 449 on import restriction on ruminants, the formal resolution of which it hoped to announce soon. The Russian Federation thanked the European Union and looked forward to further fruitful cooperation.
Date reported as resolved: 18/07/2019

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2016, the European Union stated that since February 2013, the Russian Federation had introduced a complete ban on imports of fresh and chilled pig meat, beef and poultry meat from the entire territory of Germany, followed by a ban on imports of finished meat and milk products from three German federal states: Bavaria, Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia. These import restrictions had been implemented due to claims by the Russian Federation that German veterinary services had not undertaken proper controls on the exports of such products. The European Union noted that the restrictions were not based on scientific evidence or a risk assessment and were inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement. The European Union further indicated that in 2013 it had communicated its concerns with respect to these restrictions in its officially submitted comments on the notified Russian Federation measure, as well as in document G/SPS/GEN/1216. Continuous efforts had been made by German authorities to address the issue, including conducting supervisory controls of the official veterinarians responsible for establishments listed for Russian export, and establishing an export coordination unit as a contact point for the Russian authorities and the private sector. Inspection visits had also been carried out by Russian authorities. Despite all efforts, the restrictions still remained in place. The European Union argued that there was no justification for the restrictions and requested the Russian Federation to promptly repeal these measures. The European Union indicated its willingness to engage in discussions with the Russian authorities.

The Russian Federation stated that more than 600 German processing plants producing animal products were authorized to export to the Russian Federation under the guarantees of the German competent authorities. However, more than 90% had never been inspected by Russian authorities. The Russian Federation observed that due to several factors, such as unfavourable laboratory monitoring results, border control violations, and errors in the certification of animal products, the Russian authorities had arranged several audits of the processing plants and elements of the system, in order to ensure the safety of animal products exported from Germany. Inspections had been carried out between 2012 and 2015, during which time several restrictions were imposed on imports to the Russian market from individual firms and some regions due to non-compliance with Russian SPS requirements. The Russian Federation noted that it subsequently implemented a ban, following the failure of all German states to meet its SPS requirements. The Russian Federation indicated that although it had informed the German authorities of the recorded violations and requested appropriate measures be taken to prevent export of unsafe products to the Russian market, no proper response had been received from the German veterinarian authorities. The Russian Federation further expressed concerns with the reliability of the guarantees of the German authorities, based on subsequent Russian inspections. Cooperation efforts between the Russian Federation and Germany had resulted in an update of the list of German exporting establishments, delisting more than 300 non-compliant plants. In parallel, measures had been taken to resume imports from establishments which had addressed identified deficiencies and from plants previously subject to restrictions due to laboratory monitoring results. The Rospotrebnadzor had been involved in the drafting of guidelines concerning inspection of German plants, in order to facilitate compliance with the Russian requirements. The Russian Federation further noted that consideration of the removal of the ban would be dependent on the implementation of the guidelines by the German Veterinary Services, submission of a document confirming the removal of deficiencies, and re-inspection by officials from the Rospotrebnadzor, taking into account other ongoing inspections. The Russian Federation emphasized that the upcoming work would heavily rely on collaboration between German and Russian authorities.

In October 2016, the European Union recalled that since February 2013, the Russian Federation had maintained a ban on imports of pig, beef and poultry meat from Germany, followed by a ban on imports of finished meat and milk products from three German federal states: Bavaria, Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia. These import restrictions had been implemented due to claims by the Russian Federation that German veterinary services had not undertaken proper controls on the exports of such products. The European Union reaffirmed that the restrictions were inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement. The European Union noted that the German and Russian authorities were working on the issue, and expressed hope that their discussion would result in positive developments. The European Union argued that there was no justification for the restrictions and requested the Russian Federation to promptly repeal these measures. The European Union reaffirmed its willingness to engage in discussions with the Russian authorities.

The Russian Federation recalled that restrictions had been imposed on certain German export products following the results of inspections carried out between 2012 and 2015, which revealed non-compliance of these products with Russian SPS requirements. The safety guarantee for the importation of these products to the Russian Federation had not yet been confirmed. The Russian Federation recalled that its Rospotrebnadzor had been involved in developing a manual for inspections containing Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) requirements. The Russian Federation indicated that this manual had been sent to Germany for comments and expected further cooperation with the competent German authorities.

In March 2017, the European Union recalled that since 2013, the Russian Federation had maintained a ban on imports of pig, beef and poultry meat from Germany, and a ban on imports of meat and milk products from three German federal states. These import restrictions had been implemented due to claims by the Russian Federation that German veterinary services had not undertaken proper controls on the exports of these products. The European Union (i) reaffirmed that the restrictions were inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement; (ii) regretted that, despite the work done by the German authorities, after four years the bans still remained in place; and (iii) urged the Russian Federation to repeal the measures. Finally, the European Union reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with the Russian authorities.

The Russian Federation recalled that temporary restrictions on supplies of livestock and dairy products from Germany were imposed following results of inspections in 2013 and 2015, which had revealed non-compliance with Russian SPS requirements. The Russian Federation announced that it was developing an instruction on the compliance of inspections with the requirements of the Russian Federation and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The Russian Federation reported that the latest developments had been discussed by the Head of the Russian Rosselkhozdnadzor and the State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany in January 2017 in Berlin, and during the visit of Mr. Helmut Brunner, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry of the Land of Bavaria to Moscow in March 2017. Following those consultations, technical consultations on the issue with representatives of the German Veterinary Services were scheduled for April 2017.

In July 2017, the European Union recalled that since 2013, the Russian Federation had maintained a ban on imports of pig, beef and poultry meat from Germany, and a ban on imports of meat and milk products from three German federal states. The European Union (i) reiterated that the restrictions were inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement; (ii) regretted that despite the efforts made by the German authorities, the ban remained in place; and (iii) urged the Russian Federation to repeal these restrictions. The European Union welcomed further discussions with the Russian Federation to find a solution in a timely manner.

The Russian Federation recalled that the restrictions had been imposed following the detection of unsafe products through laboratory monitoring, border controls and inspections carried out in 2013 and 2015, highlighting systemic non-compliance. Following the discussions in the SPS Committee and bilateral consultations, the parties agreed to introduce guidelines for the inspection of German establishments by the national competent authority, in order to comply with the regulations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation reported on technical consultations held on 4 April 2017 in Moscow between the Rospotrebnadzor and the competent German authority. The Russian Federation remained convinced that these consultations would facilitate a harmonized approach to ensure the safety of the concerned products.

In November 2017, the European Union reiterated its concern regarding the Russian Federation's import ban on fresh and chilled pig meat, beef and poultry meat from the entire territory of Germany imposed in early 2013, and the subsequent ban on finished meat and milk products from three German Federal States. The European Union repeated its earlier statements on the inconsistency of the measure with the SPS Agreement and expressed its disappointment that the ban remained in force despite efforts made by Germany and the European Union. The European Union urged the Russian Federation to repeal its measures without further delay.

The Russian Federation recalled that the temporary import restriction stemmed from the detection of unsafe products and multiple mistakes in animal products certificates found during 2013 and 2015 inspections, and their systemic nature. The Russian Federation also noted the agreement that Germany would implement guidelines to verify its compliance with the requirements of the Eurasian Economic Union and of the Russian Federation, and that draft guidelines were under review by both parties.

In Mach 2018, the European Union reiterated its concerns regarding the Russian Federation's import ban on fresh and chilled pig meat, beef and poultry meat from the entire territory of Germany imposed in early 2013, and the subsequent ban on finished meat and milk products from three German Federal States. The European Union welcomed the recent developments, whereby the Russian Federation had lifted restrictions on three dairy plants. However, the European expressed its disappointment that the overall ban still remained in force, despite all efforts made by Germany and the European Union. The European Union repeated its previous statements on the inconsistency of the measure with the SPS Agreement, and also indicated that it viewed the request by the Russian Federation for a fourth round of inspections as unreasonable. The European Union further noted that the inspection of individual establishments was neither efficient nor proportionate. Instead, a systems audit approach was more appropriate, in line with Codex guidelines. The European Union urged the Russian Federation to repeal its measures without further delay.

The Russian Federation noted that there had been tangible progress since the last Committee meeting. In particular, restrictions on three dairy establishments had been lifted in January 2018, following the submission of information by Germany. The Russian Federation had also requested German authorities to provide information on state-run laboratory monitoring for three other establishments, and on laboratory control for another establishment. These requests were still pending.

In July 2018, the European Union reiterated its views regarding the inconsistency with the SPS Agreement of the restrictions imposed since 2013. The European Union expressed its appreciation for the Russian Federation's decision to lift the restrictions on three dairy plants in two German Federal States, and three more which had been recently announced. The European Union however regretted that bans remained in force despite the efforts made by Germany and the European Union, and further considered unreasonable the request by the Russian Federation for a fourth round of inspections. A systems audit approach following Codex guidelines would be more efficient and proportionate than the inspection of individual establishments. The European Union requested the Russian Federation to repeal its measures without further delay.

The Russian Federation observed that at the time the restriction had been put in place, there had been 66 dairy plants and 28 meat plants authorised to export products to the Russian Federation. Following the inspections carried out by Germany, aimed at checking the conformity of those establishments with the relevant regulatory requirements of the Russian Federation and the Eurasian Economic Union, Germany had requested the delisting of 20 dairy plants and 20 meat plants. Therefore, 28 dairy plants and eight meat plants had remained on the list. In order to lift the restrictions from those reaming establishments, the Russian authorities had requested that the violations identified in those establishments be adequately addressed. Restrictions on three dairy plants had been lifted in January 2018, and on three more in July 2018, following the reception of complete information on corrective actions taken for those establishments. Of the remaining 22 dairy plants, some information had been provided regarding eight establishments, with some missing information, while no information had been provided for the remaining 14. Concerning meat processing plants, of the eight establishments on the list, partial information had only been provided regarding two of them. The Russian Federation looked forward to receiving the pending information from Germany on the remaining establishments.

In November 2018, the European Union reiterated its concern over the Russian Federation's import restrictions on certain animal products from Germany imposed since 2013, highlighting that these measures were inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement. The European Union reported that six establishments had been re-authorized to export to the Russian Federation and hoped that the remaining plants would regain access to the Russian market soon. The European Union noted that interested establishments had already submitted relevant laboratory and inspection information to the Russian Federation. The European Union also clarified that several establishments, which had submitted relevant information, had renounced to export to the Russian Federation. Finally, the European Union urged the Russian Federation to repeal its measures without further delay.

The Russian Federation confirmed that six German dairy plants had regained access to the Russian market, and would be able to export as soon as mutual economic sanctions would be lifted. The Russian Federation continued to review the list of eligible establishments, based on the information provided by the German competent authorities. The Russian Federation expressed its willingness to continue its cooperation with Germany to resolve this issue.

In July 2019, the European Union reported that STC No. 411 had been solved and that the bans from 2013 had been lifted. The European Union thanked the Russian Federation for its cooperation on this matter. It also acknowledged progress made in relation to STC No. 449 on import restriction on ruminants, the formal resolution of which it hoped to announce soon.

The Russian Federation thanked the European Union and looked forward to further fruitful cooperation.