Alyn Smith MEP has commented on the ruling delivered on 17 October by the Court of Justice of the EU stating that the obligation of individual EID for sheep and goats is valid. The Court says that this does not infringe the freedom to conduct a business or the principle of equal treatment.
The Court found that, although the EID obligations may limit freedom to conduct a business, they are, however, legitimate objectives in the public interest, namely health protection, the control of epizootic diseases, the welfare of animals and the completion of the internal market for those animals. It says that those obligations are not disproportionate either in terms of the financial burdens or animal welfare. It states that the new electronic identification system for sheep and goats also complies with the principle of equal treatment. It finds that the derogation which permits member states with a small sheep or goat population to make the electronic identification system optional does not discriminate against animal keepers established in a member state where that identification is obligatory.
"This is a disappointing decision though it is not a shock. I commend the Germans for taking this right to the top but it was a long shot from the start. All the same, it is right that it was pushed as far as possible.
"However, this ruling has underlined precisely why it is so important that the new animal health report currently going through the Parliament gives us the opportunity to properly discuss a possible reform of this law. The current proposal from the Commission puts crucial points about EID in the technical annexes, meaning that the European Parliament will have no say. I will fight this tooth and nail.
"The Commission must allow an open and frank debate about how EID is working, or not, for farmers across Scotland and the rest of the EU."