The European Commission has just adopted a Regulation that will lift the existing ban on imports of poultry meat from Ukraine that was triggered by the January 2020 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (“HPAI”) outbreak in the western part of the country.

On January 19, 2020 the Ukrainian authorities informed the World Organization of Animal Health (“OIE”) of an outbreak of HPAI in the village of Bugakiv, in the Nemyriv district of Vinnytsia Oblast (region). As a result of this, all imports of poultry meat from Ukraine into the EU were effectively banned, as exporters could no longer meet the requirements of Commission Regulation 798/2008.

That Commission Regulation requires that every consignment of poultry meat from Ukraine be accompanied by a veterinary certificate signed by an official veterinarian declaring that the meat comes from a territory in Ukraine listed in Part 1 of Annex I to the Commission Regulation that is free from HPAI and other diseases. As a result of the HPAI outbreak in the Nemyriv District of Ukraine, Ukrainian veterinary officials could no longer declare that any consignment of poultry meat from Ukraine came from an Ukrainian territory listed in Annex I free from HPAI. Thus, no imports of Ukrainian meat into the EU could be authorized.

In response to the HPAI outbreak, Ukrainian authorities implemented a stamping-out policy to control and limit the spread of HPAI. They also submitted information to the European Commission on the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and indicated the areas placed under restriction. The Ukrainian authorities made use of Article 65 of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which establishes a special procedure for the recognition of regionalization decisions following a disease outbreak in Ukraine. Such regionalization allows for the division of the country into separate zones so that one (usually smaller) part of the territory cannot be considered free from HPAI, while the rest of the country can. Following this, the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food, and Feed (the “PAFF Standing Committee”) voted in favor of amending Part 1 of Annex I to Regulation 798/2008 to reflect these two new zones.

The adopted Regulation only bans imports of poultry from a limited area, composed of a number of municipalities, including that of Bugakiv village itself, and surrounding areas in the Nemyriv district. Major centers of commercial production of poultry meat in Ukraine fall outside the prohibited zone. This is a significant improvement with respect to prior outbreaks, when the operation of Commission Regulation 798/2008 effectively banned imports from entire regions (“Oblasts”) of Ukraine.

The new Regulation also removes the ban against imports of poultry meat from the regions of Kherson, Odessa, and Chernivtsi. These regions were banned from exporting poultry meat to the EU during the prior outbreak of HPAI in Ukraine in 2016 – a ban that had not since been lifted.

The Regulation will enter into force on March 7, 2020. It will allow Ukraine to effectively make use of the additional duty free quota of 50,000 tons of poultry meat per year that it obtained under the Agreement on Poultry that the EU and Ukraine concluded last year.