Message from the Secretary General and President
I think we can safely say that 2020 has been the most unexpected year ever, for everyone in the world. We started this year thinking our main priorities would be focusing on the various implementing measures of the new EU Regulations on Veterinary Medicines and Medicated Feed, and examining the various strategies due to be published around the EU Green Deal.
Nobody could have predicted how fast our attention would have to turn also to what seems like the simplest of acts: making sure that veterinary medicines would continue to be developed and supplied across Europe.
As Secretary General and President of AnimalhealthEurope we invite you to read on through our annual report for the trials and triumphs this past year.
A year bookended with Brexit
We started the year with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on 31 January, but our UK member NOAH remains a strong member of AnimalhealthEurope as we continue united in our desire to protect animals, their health, and our food supply across Europe. The year ended with a lack of clarity on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and a Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed only on Christmas Eve. We remained firm in our joint call however, together with our Irish member APHA and NOAH, for politicians to ensure mutual recognition in the animal medicines sector, ensure a seamless movement of goods across EU borders with the United Kingdom and with Northern Ireland, and allow for safe transport of companion animals.
Ensuring continuity in a world turned upside down
Lack of clarity around Brexit was clearly not the main trial this year as the COVID-19 pandemic threw our lives and our business into an unprecedented situation. We were pleased to see the European Commission include veterinary medicines in the so-called Green Lanes that aimed to ensure the availability of goods and essential services. And across Europe we were pleased to see veterinary services recognised as essential by the Member States. Together we are proud to say that not only did our membership manage to continue a seamless supply of animal health products and services, but we also contributed where possible to COVID-19 relief efforts through a myriad of donations, including: hand-sanitiser gels; disinfectants; anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic products; masks; gloves; and other protective equipment; as well as financial donations and supplies for food banks; etc.
Transitioning to a greener, more digital future
As the world went digital and calls for a green recovery grew in strength, so did our focus on new technological and medical advances coming to the fore in animal health. With the publication of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies in May 2020, we see a multitude of benefits coming from greater investment into supporting farmers with access to digital monitoring tools, high-tech diagnostics, and new and improved vaccines. These tools offer a holistic approach to optimal animal well-being, along with enhanced resource efficiency, reduced food losses and waste at farm level, as well as greater resilience against economically devastating disease outbreaks.
Preparing for new legislation
Remaining at the forefront of our work, diligent attention to and follow-up on the 2022 application of the new EU Regulations on Veterinary Medicines and Medicated Feed continued strongly throughout the year. We put forward positions and contributed to consultations on the implementing measures at all stages of the process. We also contributed to a number of consultations on the various strategies of the EU Green Deal, the strategic approach for Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, and many others.
New Board members, and a word of thanks
In November we welcomed five new Board members to AnimalhealthEurope and took on a new treasurer, following an acquisition and other changes within our company membership. We look forward to this new blood helping to drive our sector through testy Brexit and pandemic-filled waters and into the recovery period, as we continue to bring the latest advances in animal health to market and ensure both continued research and development and supply of solutions to keep Europe’s animals in safe hands and protect our food supply. Huge thanks to all of our members and our partners here in Brussels for their work and support during this challenging year. And great recognition goes to our secretariat for continuing to deliver a strong voice for animal health and upholding the high standards we have become accustomed to, despite the various obstacles.