Published September 15, 2016
Iceland’s protectionist agricultural laws are in breach of European Economic Area (EEA) laws concerning veterinary checks in EEA trade.
The European Free Trade Agreement Surveillance Authority (ESA) announced that they have come to a “reasoned opinion” on the matter, in particular with how Iceland applies agricultural law to the importing of raw eggs and raw egg products, unpasteurised milk and dairy products processed from unpasteurised milk.
“Importers must apply for a permit and submit documentation to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority,” the announcement reads in part. “ESA considers this authorisation procedure to be in breach of Directive 89/662/EEC concerning veterinary checks in EEA trade. The main objective of the directive is to reinforce health checks at the product’s point of origin while limiting controls at the place of destination to non-discriminatory veterinary spot-checks. By requiring importers to apply for import permits and imposing additional requirements, the Icelandic legislation imposes additional checks that go beyond the types of checks permitted under this directive.”
The case is similar to another set of laws the ESA believes are in breach of EEA laws: the importing of raw meat. In that case, EFTA Court ruled that Iceland does not have the right “to enact rules demanding that an importer of raw meat products applies for a special permit before the products are imported.”
As such, should this decision also reach EFTA court, it is likely that the court will rule similarly. However, when Iceland will change its agricultural laws accordingly is still unknown.