New local cases of Schmallenberg Virus demand coordinated EU approach

Following the detection of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, Lib Dem MEP for the Westcountry Sir Graham Watson has called for better coordination among European states to tackle the threat.

The virus, first detected last autumn in Germany and The Netherlands before making its way across the channel earlier this year, has now been identified in the South West too. MEPs in the European Parliament on Thursday asked the European Commission to confirm exactly how it plans to ensure EU coordination to tackle the problem.

Sir Graham Watson said after Thursday’s debate:

“The recent discovery of SBV cases across the region is indeed a very worrying development. With lambing season about to get fully underway we will all be watching carefully, and hoping that the number of infections in the South West is kept as low as possible.

“However, this is something that must be tackled in a coordinated way at EU-level. Like climate change or cross-border pandemics affecting humans, no single country can hope to deal with such a problem on its own. The UK couldn’t stop the wind blowing the midges to our shores and midge numbers will inevitably increase as warmer weather approaches. So we need to ensure EU member states provide the Commission with full and timely information, and cooperate to develop common approaches to the disease.

“That is what we have asked of the Commission today – to ensure it gathers all EU member states together to monitor this new disease and the changing situation, so that we will be prepared to act effectively whatever direction it might take, and avoid panicked, knee-jerk reactions.

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