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President of Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez-Feijóo. (Photo: Irekia/CC BY 2.0)

Galicia to be denied the EU bivalve centre it aspired

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

The European Commission (EC) will abolish the reference laboratory in research of viral and bacteriological contaminants of bivalves for the entire European Union (EU) "for budgetary reasons" after the Brexit.

The central government has been aware of this decision since May 17 and hid it until November 2. Madrid already knew that the Technological Institute for Marine Environment Control of Galicia (INTECMAR) had no chance of assuming the role currently played by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) ​​- located in the British town of Weymouth - three weeks before the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez-Feijóo, spoke on this issue for the first time: on November 24, Feijóo, appealed to the "unit" to move the CEFAS to Galicia and exhibited the INTECMAR candidacy to get its functions.

"The EC informed member states on May 17 [...] about the future of the reference laboratories of the European Union located in the United Kingdom [which should be relocated as soon as Brexit takes place, on March 29, 2019]", indicated the central government in a written response to the socialist deputy Miguel Ángel Heredia a month ago.

"Regarding the reference laboratory for monitoring viral and bacteriological contaminants of bivalve molluscs, [the EC] reported that it was going to be suppressed for budgetary reasons," the text continues.

Only a month before (on October 2), the Executive assured that it would present the candidacy of Galicia "once the Brexit has taken place". Then it had been five months since he had first-hand knowledge of Brussels' intentions. The message was received in May by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety (AECOSAN), under the Ministry of Health, the same department that campaigned actively - and without success - for Barcelona to receive the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The Government's response is good news for the laboratory of Marine Biotoxins located in the Technological Town of Vigo and community reference since 1993. The institution will receive part of the competencies of the bacteriological contaminants laboratory after Brexit given its multidisciplinary profile and its experience in community coordination work, as it currently supervises the work of 27 centres across the EU dedicated to food, veterinary, plankton toxicity or phytosanitary research. Brussels will create a new laboratory "specific for viruses in food" for which there is still no known location.

The EC referred to "budgetary reasons" to suppress the reference centre, although the cost of maintaining this status was small. Brussels allocated to the British CEFAS for this biennium (2016-2017) just over EUR 1.8 million, 0.03 per cent of the entire European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) budget, endowed with 6.4 billion up to 2020.

Source: Lara Graña / La Opinión A Coruña (Spanish)

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