Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement - Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Joint Management Committee – November 16-19, 2021, videoconference
Agenda/ Final Minutes
1. Welcome and introduction
1.1 Opening remarks
- Introductions - The European Union (EU) and Canada provided opening remarks and applauded the good cooperation and work between both parties
1.2 Adoption of the agenda
- Agenda was adopted with no changes in items.
2. Operation and implementation of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) chapter
2.1 Rules of procedure
- Both parties agreed to finalize the draft minutes and produce a final report within the same format.
2.2 Review and confirmation of tracking items
- EU and Canada agreed on continuing tracking the progress of issues.
3. Information sharing
3.1 EU Farm to Fork Strategy
- The EU presented information and updates on the Farm to Fork Strategy, EU’s action plan to reduce food waste and EU code of conduct.
- Canada raised its concerns in relation to the timelines and implications of the implementation of the new EU requirements (on pesticides, fertilisers, antimicrobial resistance [AMR]) and requested for a longer transition implementation period.
- Both parties acknowledged the importance of continuous information exchange and continue working bilaterally and update, notably with regard to the aspects that could have a considerable impact on trade.
- EU and Canada agreed to continue engaging on information sharing between both parties on the different activities.
3.2 Maximum residue limits and import tolerances for plant protection products
- Canada explained its concerns over the EU’s implementation of hazard-based regulatory decision-making requirements under European Commission (EC, the Commission) Regulation 1107/2009 and approach to assessing import tolerances.
- Canada requested that the EU considers maintaining maximum residue limits (MRLs) for substances that do not pose unacceptable dietary risk and that transition periods will provide sufficient time for producers and exporters to adapt to the new requirements.
- Canada requested information concerning the approach being discussed in the EU by which global environmental considerations will be taken into account into the process to set import tolerance for active substances that are no longer registered for use in the EU.
- EU reiterated its position that import tolerances requests systematically undergo a risk assessment process, as foreseen by the EU legislation on maximum residue levels, and in line with international rules.
- EU also clarified that, within its Farm to Fork Strategy, it considers that certain environmental issues are matters of global concern.
- The granting of import tolerances will be considered on a case-by-case basis and based on the best available scientific evidence. It is standard practice as well to grant third countries and food business operators time to adapt to new measures provided that there is no health risk for consumers.
- The EU will engage actively with trading partners, to accompany the transition towards the more sustainable use of pesticides, to avoid disruptions in trade, and to promote alternative plant protection products and methods.
- The EU will continue to actively engage with Canada within the framework of the SPS Committee and inform on any development through its outreach activities at international fora and bilateral discussions.
3.3 Contaminants –MRLs
- Canada raised concerns with the EU’s recent decisions to adopt maximum residue levels (MRLs) for certain naturally occurring contaminants found in various commodities, including transition times and that the new MRLs could become a barrier to the trade of many products that Canadian producers export to the EU without assuring enhanced protection for consumers.
- In particular, concerns related to the MRLs set for cadmium in cereals, pulses and oilseeds; ergot and ergot alkaloids in cereals; and cyanogenic glycosides in linseed (flaxseed).
- On cadmium, EU noted that the decision to set MRLs is based on the risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and has taken into the occurrence data for cadmium in the specific foodstuffs from various origins.
- On ergot sclerotia and ergot alkaloids EU reiterated its position that proposed MRLs do not apply to the import of bulk raw grain, but to cereals placed on the market for the final consumer. Therefore, these concerns do not justify a further deferral of the application of the MRLs for ergot alkaloids.
- EU also informed that, in follow up to the outcome of the EFSA opinion of 2019, is discussing possible MRLs for hydrocyanic acid in certain foods, including linseed for human consumption. The detailed comments made by Canada in their letter of March 2021 are being taken into consideration for these discussions.
- The EU will provide further information at Canada’s request and will continue discussing this matter in the context of the very well established bilateral framework.
3.4 Titanium Oxide (TiO2)
- Canada is concerned with the EU’s recent World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS notification (G/SPS/N/EU/388) which bans the use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a food additive.
- Canada asked clarifications on the scientific justification to ban titanium dioxide as a food additive, including the rationale for the short timeline for its implementation.
- EU explained that the scientific basis of the decision taken by the Commission relies on EFSA’s opinion concluding that TiO2 can no longer be considered safe when used as a food additive. This conclusion had been reached on the basis of all currently available evidence and its uncertainties related to its use and potential genotoxicity concerns. For these reasons, the EU took measures it considered to be justified and proportionate.
- On the timeline, the EU noted that the latest EFSA opinion, published on 6 May 2021, was a follow up to the previous EFSA opinion of 2016 in which uncertainties and data gaps had already been identified. The EU stressed that the intention to ban TiO2, when used as a food additive, was announced shortly after the publication of the latest EFSA opinion. The EU also noted that TiO2 and the latest EFSA opinion was presented and discussed at the International Food Chemical Safety Liason Group (IFCSLG) meetings, hosted by Health Canada, in June and November 2021. Positive feedback from the EU Member States on the proposal was received in October 2021. The EU informed that the proposal will be adopted in January 2022 and will enter into force twenty days afterwards. A transitional period of 6 months will be put in place after the date of entry into force, during which foods containing TiO2 currently placed on the EU market can remain until their date of minimum durability or ‘use by/best before’ date. In light of these considerations, the EU considered that the overall timeline, and giving more than one year to the food business operators to adjust from the announcement of the ban, is sufficient and proportionate.
- Canada will respond to the WTO notification and both parties will continue to engage and exchange information.
3.5 Veterinary medicinal products
- Canada asked for additional information as it relates to timelines or when drafts will be available for third countries review of the list of antimicrobials reserved for human use and develop the import rules which third countries will have to comply with for exports destined to the EU.
- EU informed that a number of implementing and delegated acts are under preparation. The schedules for the adoption of these legislative acts are laid down in the text of the new EU Regulations.
- Canada requested a proper transitional period with respect to article 118 in order to provide time for trading partners to comply with the regulations on veterinary medicinal products (VMP), keeping in mind that for many sectors namely, cattle and livestock sectors would need at least 5 years to adopt changes in the use of antimicrobial treatments.
- EU informed that it will soon begin discussions with Member State experts on the Article 118 implementing and delegated acts and reassured Canada that it is working to find out a pragmatic solution to avoid any trade disruption in relation to the implementation of the new requirements. The EU will keep its international partners informed of any future developments.
- European Union committed to keep Canada informed of any developments as it relates to the list of antimicrobials reserved for human use and rules of import (as part of the implementation)
- EU committed to work on a pragmatic solution that would work for third countries, that would limit trade disruptions.
- EU also committed to host information session for third countries on VMP.
4. Specific issue management: plant
4.1 Exports of fresh tomato with vines, stems, and calyces
- The EU reiterated its request for a pilot project with Canada (and the United States) for exports of tomatoes with green parts based on a systems approach from pest free places of production proposed by the EU for 5 EU Member States submitted in March 2021.
- Canada explained that they are in close coordination with the United States to finalise this market access request to start exports under the pilot project from interested EU Member States (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands).
- Both parties agreed and committed to participate to a trilateral meeting to be coordinated by the U.S to take place in the first weeks of December 2021.
4.2 Recognition of EU’s pest free areas for Asian long horned beetles (ALB) and citrus long horned beetles (CLB).
- The EU welcomed the country-freedom recognition on 2 December 2019 for ALB and CLB of 21 EU Member States and requested Canada to recognise also the Pest free areas for ALB and CLB in EU Member States where outbreaks occurred.
- Canada mentioned that currently import requirements are not in alignment with the US, as a result causing further delays.
- Canada expressed its willingness to engage in a trilateral discussion.
- EU and Canada agreed to continue to engage between the three parties in order to move forward and value the work that is already done.
4.3 EU export applications of cherries
4.4 EU export applications of berries
- EU has requested Canada to follow-up and finalise the request of Spain to export cherries to Canada (closed in 2017 due to Rhagoletis cerasi). It was noted that Canada informed in 2020 that countries that are infested with R. cerasi must have risk mitigating measures in place, equivalent to those imposed domestically by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and that a brown sugar flotation test is required to certify of fruit for domestic movement from Ontario to other provinces in Canada.
- Canada explained that priority was given to the blueberries and would not be able to provide a concrete timeline. Canada aimed to finalise the dossier on blueberries within the first half of 2022.
- Canada invited the EU to promote contacts between the CAN importers and Spain in order to further prioritise the file on cherries.
- EU and Canada agreed to continue to engage and set up a stocktaking meeting in spring 2022.
5. Specific issue management: food
5.1.1 Incoming and outgoing audits-information
- EU provided information with regard to the outcome of the dairy audit carried out (remotely) in Canada in October 2020 and on the audits planned for 2022. EU has planned in 2022 the follow-up of the meat audit and an audit on veterinary medicines residues which may be combined with the meat audit.
- Canada informed on the preparation of the remote audit in Austria within the 2021-22 fiscal year, and that for 2022-23 two potential on site audits on dairy products (cheese) are planned in France and Italy.
- EU and Canada agreed to continue exchanging information about audits.<
5.1.2 Recognition of EU Member States’ (MS) meat inspection systems (Canada Audit)
- EU referred to the discussions that took place in 2020 with regard to the audit carried out in 2019 in 9 MS and enquired what should be expected for the approval of MS not audited and non-recognised (i.e Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Slovenia) to get market access for meat/poultry.
- Canada explained that the process of recognition of remaining MS would require an onsite audit and that no on-site audits are being conducted due to the pandemic restrictions. However, Canada is willing to prioritize and plan future onsite audits on the basis of the interest expressed by the EU MSs.
- Canada explained that the market interest is an important consideration in prioritization and that recognition to both non recognized and inactive MS would require a positive on site audit.
- EU invited Canada to a meeting with the interested MSs to get more clarity on their interest and requests.
- EU and Canada agreed on a follow-up meeting.
- EU will consult with Member States before setting up a broader meeting with Canada, involving the MS.
- Canada to explore the possibility of a group assessment to be carried out.
5.1.3 EU Audit in Canada on bovine and pig meat intended for export to the EU (EU Audit, 2019)
- EU thanked Canada for the submitted action plans and for ensuring follow-up actions to address the audit recommendations. Information was provided on the state of play of the evaluation of the recommendations where 5 out of 7 can be considered satisfactorily addressed.
- Canada announced that due to the pandemic, the consultations on the regulatory changes proposed will start in spring 2022. The EU found the response to be satisfactory.
- The EU will carry out a follow-up audit in 2022 to verify the implementation of actions taken.
- Canada will keep the EU informed about the ongoing legislative process.
5.2 Discussion on simplified public health attestation on new model certificates (formerly simplified certificates for Canadian exports of meat and meat products and TRACES certificates for the European Union).
- Canada noted that since August 2021 adopted EU’s TRACES NT system and that the Public Health Attestations within the certificates do not match the text reflected in annex 5, Export Certification.
- Canada appreciated the support for the use of the system and asked for a simplification of the public health attestations in the electronic certificates.
- EU acknowledged that the established equivalence on public health allows simplification of the certificates and noted that this process would require the adoption of new simplified certificates that would need be made on a priority basis. EU invited Canada to a technical meeting to discuss and review the way forward.
- Canada will inform on the priority certificates to be reviewed and simplified on the basis of the equivalence agreed on public health.
- EU and Canada agreed to set up a technical meeting to establish a road map for this work.
- The EU will work on the simplification of the public health attestation of the certificates of the commodities in line with the priorities established.
5.3 Food safety and animal health
5.3.1 Import – export certificates
- EU asked Canada to allow a sufficient transition period (4 months) for the use of the new certificate for the EU exports of fresh poultry meat and products.
- EU informed that the list of the priority commodities for harmonised certificates for export to Canada is now updated and proposed to continue the work on priorities.
- With regard to the EU harmonised export certificates Canada noted that there is a need to reflect the legislation in force. This would also provide the appropriate guidance to the border controls and allow trade to continue without problems.
- EU underlined that although the necessary updates to the legislative references should be made, the certificates should remain unchanged and asked for confirmation to continue using them until an update is made.
- EU and Canada agreed to exchange their updated priorities lists and to set up a meeting in January 2022 in order to discuss and agree on the way forward.
- Canada acknowledged and will favourably consider the EU request for a sufficient transition period for harmonised certificates.
6. Specific issue management: animal health
6.1 Exports of bees to Canada
- EU asked Canada to inform on the state of application submitted by a Member State to export bees to Canada.
- Canada acknowledged that the procedure is on-going and informed that the risk assessment has started. Following its completion, the necessary risk management conditions will be established
- Canada will inform on the state of play of the risk assessment and the next steps to be taken.
6.2 Use of processed animal protein in feed
- EU asked Canada to exchange information on the rules in place on the use of Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs) in feed and provided information on the respective EU rules and recent changes.
- Canada informed about the rules in place and noted that an on site audit would be necessary for the approval of MS to export PAPs.
- EU will consult MS to see if additional MS are interested to be added in Canada’s priority list for audit.
6.3 Canadian legislative requirements on the imports of dogs
- EU informed Canada about its MS’s s interest in the commercial export of dogs less than 8 months of age to Canada, for the breeding, show/exhibition (permanent stay) and resale/adoption end uses and would like to get information on the rules in place. EU asked for the rules in place in Canada for those imports.
- Canada informed on the recent changes made on the import rules and noted that the new import requirements are available on their website. The new conditions are applicable for all countries.
- Canada and EU would set up a technical meeting in case further clarifications are needed.
6.4 Recognition of zoning for animal diseases (Canada’s regionalization recognition on African swine fever, import permits)
- Canada enquired when it can expect to have written confirmation from the EU to reflect that the current language for certification of pork meat, pork products, live semen and embryos for African swine fever (ASF) can be used, should Canada have a case of ASF once regionalization of Canada is reflected in the EU import Legislation.
- EU recalled that a written confirmation was already provided in 2019 ensuring that in case of an ASF outbreak from free regions in Canada trade will continue upon adoption of regionalisation.
- It was noted that the detailed technical discussions on the pork certificate have clarified the changes to zoning nomenclature due to the Animal Health Law.
- EU recalled also that in the letter from Canada (June 2021) Canada informed that it would take the necessary steps to allow the use of the new certificates (2020/2235).
- EU informed that it remains open to engage in further discussions to reach a bilateral agreement on animal health certification requirements with CAN within the limits of the relevant international standards and specific rules in place.
- Canada to consider the written comments made from the EU and propose a possible alternative wording.
- Canada and EU committed to set up a technical call to conclude this issue.
6.5 New ASF implementing regulation (EU 2021/605)
- Canada recalled that is awaiting the EU response to questions on the new Implementing Regulation 2021/605, which lays down special control measures for African Swine Fever.
- EU provided a detailed overview of the rules in place, focusing on the specific questions raised by Canada after the technical meetings.
- Canada would like to have a technical call (together with US) with the EU to get further clarifications on pending questions on the implementation of these regulations for ASF.
- EU will send written replies to the questions of Canada and will remain open to set up another technical meeting in case further clarifications are needed.
6.6 Negotiation of harmonized certificates for exports of Atlantic herring for bait and for further processing from Canada
- Canada expressed its request to continue negotiations on the requirements for the export of wild Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) for dead bait and further processing for human consumption from the EU to Canada.
- EU welcomed the negotiations and thanked Canada for submitting an updated certificate on the basis of the discussions taken place at the end of September.
- EU informed that the proposed certificate will be reviewed by the technical experts in detail before setting up a follow-up technical meeting to further progress and finalise the certificate.
- EU will review the proposal submitted by Canada and will set up a technical meeting to finalise the certificate.
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