International Law, Animal Health and Zoonosis: A Critical Analysis of EU Leadership
On April 21st 2021, EU Regulation 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases entered into force. The law aims to prevent and control animal diseases that can be transmitted to other animals or to humans. The new law deals, of course, with an issue that is of great public interest during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have had its origins in such zoonosis. This contribution analyses what can be called for short the EU’s Animal Health Law, the expectations that lay behind it, and whether those expectations have been realized. Part 1 describes the origins of the proposal; how and by whom it was advocated and its relationship to EU animal law in general. Subsequent parts examine the content of the Animal Health Law – its scope, overarching themes, and innovative elements. The core of the contribution is evaluative and asks what the exact implications are likely to be for animals and animal products, both within EU and beyond its borders, particularly with regard to exports. The article also looks at the potential for the Animal Health Law to be replicated in non-EU political contexts, taking account of recent criticism of the EU’s own willingness to make significant and meaningful progress in implementing its animal health and welfare strategy. Is the Animal Health Law an expression of the leadership role the EU claims in transboundary animal law, offering a promising and instructive way forward, or is it just fuss and feathers?