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Extension of the Island's meat derogation 27 February 2006

    The European Council has published its decision to extend the Island’s meat derogation until 31st December 2010. The derogation authorises the Island to control imports of sheepmeat, beef and veal.

    The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon Phil Gawne MHK, and Department officials were involved in tough talks with the Commission in 2005 to win an extension to the current derogation.

    “I am delighted that it has been possible to persuade the Commission to extend the derogation for a further five years,” said the Minister. “Commission officials wanted it to come to an immediate end, but finally accepted our arguments that our industry must have time to adjust.”

    “The Island has had a meat derogation since 1982,” explained the Minister. “It has been extended on a number of occasions. However, European officials were reluctant to consider extending the derogation after 31st December 2005, when our previous derogation was due to come to an end.”

    The European Council made its decision on 20th February. It was published on the 24th February in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ L 54, 24.2.2006, pp 32-3. However, it provides for continuous application of the derogation by applying the Decision from 1st January 2006.

    The preamble to the Decision says that, whilst the derogation has been in place, the activity in the sheep and cattle sector in the Isle of Man has been maintained. However, the Commission reported to the Council that structural problems in the sector may impede the long-term sustainability of the livestock production on the Island. Therefore, the current regime is prolonged for the last time to allow for the restructuring of the sheepmeat and beef industry on the Isle of Man.

    “It is important that the industry and the Department use the extended time up to 31st December 2010 in carefully considering the implications for the future, and planning and preparing for that future,” said Mr Gawne. “Amendment of the structure of the Agricultural Marketing Society and Marketing Associations under a revised Agricultural Marketing Act will be an important first step, but there will still be lots to do.”

    “This will be the most profound change to the industry for over 70 years. However, I am very pleased with the positive attitude displayed by the industry in working with the Department to resolve the difficulties which derogation loss might bring.”

    27th February 2006

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