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Internal Market: Iceland's restrictions on the importation of fresh meat in breach of EEA law



The Icelandic legislation currently applicable to the importation of fresh meat, meat preparations (such as sausages) and other meat products from other EEA States is in breach of EEA law. This is the conclusion of a letter of formal notice delivered by the EFTA Surveillance Authority today. Read the letter of formal notice here.

Under Icelandic law, the importation of fresh meat, processed or unprocessed, chilled or frozen, as well as meat preparations and other meat is subject to an import authorisation procedure. Importers must apply for a permit and submit documentation to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Office, such as certificates confirming that the products have been frozen or confirming that the products are free of salmonella.

For the Authority, this authorisation procedure is in breach of the Directive concerning veterinary checks in EEA trade [1]. This Directive defines the type of controls that can be performed within the EEA on products of animal origin and limits controls at the place of destination to non-discriminatory veterinary spot-checks.

By requiring operators to apply for an import permit and presenting various certificates, the Icelandic legislation is imposing systematic checks on imports of products from the EEA that go beyond the types of checks permitted under this Directive and constitute unjustified barriers to trade.  

In addition, the Icelandic measures cannot be justified on grounds of protection of health and life of humans or animals.   

In 2007, the EEA legislation on food hygiene and controls – the so-called “hygiene package” – was incorporated into the EEA Agreement. However, it only entered into force in Norway and Iceland on 1 May 2010. Iceland maintained certain adaptations concerning live animals and fishmeal and had an additional 18 months to incorporate provisions concerning fresh meat and other meat products. However, no substantative adaptations are in place regarding fresh meat. As of 1 November 2011, the relevant EEA legislation concerning the hygiene of fresh meat , official controls or veterinary checks became fully applicable in Iceland.

A letter of formal notice is the first step in an infringement procedure against an EEA State. The Icelandic Government has two months to express its views on the content of the letter. After that, the EFTA Surveillance Authority may decide to deliver a reasoned opinion, which is the final step before the Authority can choose to refer the case to the EFTA Court.  


For further information, please contact:

Mr Ólafur Einarsson
Director, Department of Internal Market Affairs
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 73

[1] Council Directive 89/662/EEC of 11 December 1989 concerning veterinary checks in intra-Community trade with a view to the completion of the internal market

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