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Better enforcement of monetary claims: the attachment of bank accounts

Better enforcement of monetary claims: the attachment of bank accounts

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Better enforcement of monetary claims: the attachment of bank accounts

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Better enforcement of monetary claims: the attachment of bank accounts

The European Commission is launching a public consultation on how to improve the enforcement of monetary claims in Europe, particularly by means of attachment of bank accounts.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper on improving the efficiency of the enforcement of judgments in the European Union: the attachment of bank accounts [COM(2006) 618 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Commission describes in its Green Paper the problems of the current situation with regard to the enforcement of monetary claims. Its intention is to create a European system for the attachment of bank accounts. To this end, it is launching a consultation among interested parties, who have been asked to submit their comments before 31 March 2007.

Creditors faced with different national rules

At Community level, several legal instruments provide for the jurisdiction of courts, the procedure to have judgments recognised and declared enforceable, and mechanisms for cooperation of courts in civil procedures. However, execution on a court order once it has been declared enforceable remains entirely a matter of national law. Moreover, under existing Community law, it is not possible to obtain a bank attachment which can be enforced throughout the European Union. In particular, Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 (“Brussels I”) does not ensure that protective remedies, such as bank attachments, obtained ex parte can be recognised and enforced in a Member State other than the one where it was issued.

There are, however, differences in the national legislations of the Member States as regards the enforcement of court orders. A creditor is confronted with different legal systems, procedural requirements and language barriers which entail additional costs and delays in the enforcement procedure.

Blocking fund movements and attaching bank accounts

Attaching a debtor’s bank account(s) is a very effective way for creditors to recover the amount owed to them. Most Member States have legislation which provides for the attachment of bank accounts. Debtors can, however, transfer funds very quickly to other accounts that the creditor may not know about. The creditor is often not able to block such movements of funds as quickly and therefore loses a powerful weapon against recalcitrant debtors.

The Commission feels that problems of cross-border debt recovery are an obstacle to the free movement of payment orders within the European Union and to the proper functioning of the internal market. Late payment and non-payment are a risk for businesses and consumers alike. The Commission therefore proposes the creation of a European system for the attachment of bank accounts.

Setting up a European system for the attachment of bank accounts

A European order for the attachment of bank accounts would enable creditors to seize debts before the related funds are transferred by the debtor to other bank accounts opened within the European Union. Such an order would have protective effect only, i.e. it would only block the debtor’s funds in a bank account without transferring them to the creditor.

The Commission intends either to lay down a new, self-standing European procedure which would complement measures existing under national law or to harmonise Member States’ national rules on the attachment of bank accounts by means of a directive. The Commission considers that, in the latter case, additional provisions would need to be made to ensure the recognition and enforcement of an attachment order issued in one Member State throughout the European Union.

Consulting the public on the need to create a European system for the attachment of bank accounts

The Green Paper is the start of a consultation exercise among interested parties as to whether it is necessary to create a European system for the attachment of bank accounts and whether such an instrument should be limited to protective orders preventing the withdrawal and transfer of monies held in bank accounts. It also asks about the possible procedure for obtaining an attachment order and about the amount, limits and effect of such an order.

The procedure for obtaining an attachment order. The Commission asks at which stages creditors, in their pursuit of a monetary claim, should be able to apply for a attachment order under the proposed European system. There are four possible stages:

  • before judicial proceedings begin;
  • concurrently with the raising of the principal action;
  • at any later stage during the course of judicial proceedings;
  • during the period between the issue of an order in one Member State and of a declaration of enforceability of the order in the Member State where the account of the debtor is located.

The Commission also asks about the conditions for granting an order. An attachment order could be granted by a court in summary proceedings upon application by the creditor, using an application form available in all Community languages. The creditor would though first have to persuade the court that he had a justifiable claim on the merits against the debtor (fumus boni iuris). The Commission is of the opinion that an enforceable right, e.g. a court order or authentic instrument, should suffice as proof of the claim. If an enforceable right has not yet been given, creditors should supply evidence to support the claim. The creditor would then have to demonstrate urgency, such as that there exists a real risk that enforcement of the claim may be frustrated if the measure is not granted (periculum in mora). Finally, the court should be able to require the creditor to provide a guarantee or security to protect the debtor against any loss or damage were the measure to be set aside in the main proceedings.

The Commission is seeking the public’s views on whether or not the debtor should be heard or notified prior to the granting of a bank attachment and on what minimum information the creditor should provide when applying for an attachment order. It also raises the issue of jurisdiction of the courts issuing the order, i.e. whether it should be the court judging the merits of the case or the court of the place where the account is held.

Amount and limits of an attachment order in the European system

Limiting the attachment to a specific amount rather than blocking the entire balance in the account(s) seized would discourage abuse and be proportionate.

The Commission asks whether or not banks should be paid for the execution of an attachment order and asks what the applicable rate might be. It also asks whether the creditor should pay the bank in advance or whether the bank should deduct the amount payable from the debtor’s account.

The Green Paper raises the issue of how to handle amounts seized in several debtor accounts: should the amounts seized in each of these accounts be limited in order to prevent an attachment of double or triple the amount due?

As is already the case in certain Member States, an attachment served on the head office of a bank may attach all accounts in the local branches of the bank. The Commission considers that one way of addressing the problem could be to provide for the transfer of the amount due to a separate account and to unblock the accounts seized. Consideration will have to be given to how this system works for the account of two holders such as spouses, with different banks and across different Member States.

To protect the debtor’s dignity and family life, certain sums must be exempt from execution, i.e. such funds as the debtor requires for his alimentary needs and those of his family, etc.

Effects of an attachment order

To ensure that the protective nature of attachment orders is effective, the Commission proposes that they should take effect directly throughout the European Union without any intermediary procedure, such as a declaration of enforceability.

The Commission also asks about the way in which an attachment order should be transmitted from the issuing court to the bank holding the account to be seized, the time limit which the bank should respect in order to implement an attachment, and how an attachment order should affect ongoing operations. The public is also asked whether or not banks should be obliged to inform the enforcement authority whether and to what extent an attachment has successfully secured the monies liable to be paid by the debtor to the creditor.

Debtors must have the right to contest an attachment. However, it will need to be determined whether the court having issued the bank attachment is the competent authority for this or the court of the place where the account is situated. The Commission considers that grounds for objection (e.g. payment of the debt, prescription of the claim) should be harmonised at European level. It is also necessary to specify when and by whom the debtor should be notified that an attachment has been granted and has taken effect, and whether or not the attachment should be revocable or lapse automatically if the creditor does not file the principal action within a specific time period. If the debtor has several creditors, a ranking of competing creditors could be envisaged.

Finally, the Commission is also considering the possibility of “converting” an attachment into an executory measure. The creditor may first block the debtor’s account by means of an attachment order. The creditor will then obtain a ruling during the main proceedings which is enforceable in the Member State where is account is held, either by means of a declaration of enforceability pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 or by providing a certificate issued under the rules of the new European procedures for small or uncontested claims. It will need to be considered how an attachment can in this case be transformed into an executory measure effecting the transfer of the amount seized to the creditor.

 

Better informed about Europe

Better informed about Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Better informed about Europe

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Better informed about Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication to the Commission of 20 July 2005, “Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission” [SEC(2005) 985 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Communication is one of the main objectives of the Commission presided over by José Manuel Barroso. It is based on three main principles, namely:

  • listening: the citizen must not only be informed but must also be listened to;
  • communicating: citizens need to be informed in order to be able to participate in the democratic debate;
  • connecting with citizens by “going local”: good communication must meet the local needs of citizens.

This Action Plan represents the first phase of the process to improve communication. It will be followed by a White Paper for the creation of a genuine European Public Sphere. The Commission has begun by taking specific measures to modernise and professionalise all of its departments.

Involving the whole of the Commission in the communications strategy

The new communications strategy requires participation of the whole of the Commission. Commissioners need to devote more time to communicating, for example when travelling to Member States. Every member of staff at the Commission must be an ambassador for it, i.e. must be capable of informing the public or the press about the Commission’s policies. Internal communication and training in communication must therefore be developed, and communication professionals will need to be recruited for this purpose.

The Commission urges all the Directorates-General to draft their policies in clear, simple and precise terms. It also suggests that the most important proposals should be accompanied by a “layperson’s summary”, and where necessary by a communication plan. To help the public find their way more easily around Commission documents, presentation needs to be unified, for example through the use of slogans and symbols. The Commission also intends to simplify the identification of the authority represented in its contact centres and information relays. Finally, the Commission will widely publicise its consultation procedures, through the portal ” Your voice in Europe “, to give citizens easier access to the consultation process.

While all members of staff of the Commission are urged to become involved in the new communications strategy, certain players have a key role to play in its implementation. These include the:

  • Directorate-General for Press and Communication, now renamed DG Communication so as better to reflect the Commission’s new strategy: within DG Communication: a “planning and coordination” team will be responsible for preparing the communication agenda, based on contributions from all the other DGs and DG Communication’s own departments. This planning and coordination team will be responsible for ensuring the implementation of this Action Plan, which will involve defining communication plans oriented towards the general public, i.e. focusing on fewer subjects but approaching as many EU citizens as possible. In order to listen to citizens and find out what their expectations are, DG Communication will analyse the results of Eurobarometer surveys, media reporting, feedback from the Commission Representations in the Member States, from the contact points and the information relays, and from consultation processes. The results of all this research should enable messages to be better targeted. Finally, DG Communication will be responsible for evaluating the impact of the actions taken, i.e. determining whether they have been effective, cost-efficient and relevant;
  • Spokesperson’s Service, responsible for relations with the media: this Service will communicate the Commission’s political priorities to the media, as well as a story-led news agenda aimed at the general public. It will also rebut false information. Finally, the Commission has been asked to review press releases in order to reduce their number, improve their quality and adapt them to local audiences;
  • Commission Representations in the Member States: these have a key role to play in implementing the Action Plan at local level, since they can identify the target audiences, sound out their expectations and respond to these expectations in the audience’s own language. To increase the impact of the Commission Representations in the Member States, the Commission proposes promoting visits by Commissioners to the Member States, in particular to the regional and local media. Heads of Representation and press officers will be encouraged to act as spokespeople on behalf of the Commission and to refute false information. The Commission Representations will adapt their communication plan to the communication agenda. They will also develop their own activities in this field, adapting them to national needs. Finally, they will network with the Commission’s information relays to spread the message at local level.

Better use of existing communication tools

In order to inform EU citizens and stimulate their interest the Commission intends to improve the use of the communication tools preferred by the public, which include:

  • audiovisual services: the Commission will develop better networking of TV channels in Europe and of broadcasters, as well as the audiovisual news agency ” Europe by Satellite “;
  • internet: The EU website ” Europa ” is the largest public website in the world. The Commission considers it necessary to ensure that the best technologies are available, as well as the latest developments in the private sector, such as blogs. DG Communication will appoint an editor for Europa to structure and simplify the website. DG Communication will concentrate its intensified editorial efforts on a news site and on a number of general sites for young people and other key target audiences;
  • Commission publications: the Commission will continue to produce publications, but along the lines “less is better”;
  • citizens’ contact centres and information relays: the Commission will continue its support for citizens’ contact centres and information relays, notably through the Europe Direct free phone line. These information points provide a platform for non-specialised audiences to express their interests and receive information. The Commission proposes networking all of these information points;
  • visitor groups: the Commission will devote particular attention to journalists, national and local politicians, civil society and to young people;
  • cooperation with journalists: the Commission will step up cooperation with journalists through training for journalists on EU affairs and through accommodating more student journalists in the Commission’s programme of internships;
  • events: the organisation of events such as conferences, seminars or multilingual internet chats will play an important role in the Commission’s communication strategy.

The Commission realises that in order to implement all these measures substantial resources will need to be allocated, in terms of both budget and personnel. This is because all the DGs will be devoting more time to communication. In addition, the Commission Representations in the Member States will need to be reinforced considerably in order to achieve greater communication impact at local level.

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission; it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

 

Bern Convention

Bern Convention

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Bern Convention

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Bern Convention

Related Acts

Council Decision 82/72/EEC of 3 December 1981 concerning the conclusion of the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats (Bern Convention).

Summary

The European Community is a contracting party to the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats adopted at Bern on 19 September 1979.

Wild flora and fauna constitute a natural heritage of great value that needs to be preserved and handed on to future generations. In addition to national protection programmes, the parties to the Convention consider that cooperation should be established at a European level.

The Convention is intended to promote cooperation between the signatory States in order to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to protect endangered migratory species.

The parties undertake to:

  • promote national policies for the conservation of wild flora, wild fauna and natural habitats;
  • integrate the conservation of wild flora and fauna into national planning, development and environmental policies;
  • promote education and disseminate information on the need to conserve species of wild flora and fauna and their habitats.

States will take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to protect the wild flora species specified in Appendix I. The Convention prohibits the deliberate picking, collecting, cutting or uprooting of such plants.

Appropriate legislative and administrative measures must also be adopted to conserve the wild fauna species listed in Appendix II. The following are prohibited:

  • all forms of deliberate capture and keeping and deliberate killing;
  • the deliberate damage to or destruction of breeding or resting sites;
  • the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation;
  • the deliberate destruction or taking of eggs from the wild or keeping these eggs;
  • the possession of and internal trade in these animals, alive or dead, including stuffed animals and any part or derivative thereof.

Any exploitation of wild fauna specified in Appendix III must be regulated in order to keep the populations out of danger (temporary or local prohibition of exploitation, regulation of transport or sale, etc.). The parties are prohibited from using indiscriminate means of capture and killing capable of causing the disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, the species.

The Convention provides for exceptions to the above provisions:

  • for the protection of flora and fauna,
  • to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, water and other forms of property,
  • in the interests of public health and safety, air safety or other overriding public interests,
  • for the purposes of research and education, of repopulation, of reintroduction and for the necessary breeding,
  • to permit, under strictly supervised conditions, the taking, keeping or other judicious exploitation of certain wild animals and plants in small numbers.

The contracting parties undertake to coordinate their efforts for the protection of the migratory species specified in Appendices II and III whose range extends into their territories.

A standing committee responsible for following the application of the Convention is set up.

The Bern Convention entered into force on 6 June 1982.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 82/72/EEC 01.09.1982 OJ L of 10.02.1982

Related Acts

Report SEC (2001) 515 final – Not published in the Official Journal

Report on the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1997-1998) (Article 9(2)) (presented by the European Commission)
The Birds and Habitats Directives provide the framework within which the provisions of the Bern Convention are applied. The report contains information on the authorities empowered to authorise derogations from Article 6 (Species in Appendices I and II to the Convention) and on derogations regarding the methods of capture and killing listed in Appendix IV to the Convention.

Council Decision of 21 December 1998 concerning the approval, on behalf of the Community, of amendments to Appendices II and III to the Berne Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats adopted at the 17th meeting of the Convention’s Standing Committee [Official Journal L 358 of 31.12.1998].

Beef and veal

Beef and veal

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Beef and veal

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Markets for agricultural products

Beef and veal

The common organisation of the market in beef and veal governs the granting of aid to stock-farmers and trade with third countries.

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999 of 17 May 1999 on the common organisation of the market in beef and veal [See Amending Acts].

Summary

From 1 July 2008, products falling within the scope of this Regulation will be covered by the common organisation of agricultural markets (CMO).

Scope

The products covered are live bovine animals and the meat, offal, meat meal and fat of bovine animals.

Internal market

Community measures to encourage action by trade and intertrade organisations may be taken to improve:

  • stock breeding;
  • the organisation of production, processing and marketing;
  • quality;
  • forecasting;
  • the recording of market price movements.

The 2003 reform of the common agricultural policy severed the link between headage and payments and replaced it with a single income payment per farm based on historical entitlements. As part of this new legislative framework, Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 establishing common rules for direct support schemes abolishes the direct payments provided for in this Regulation. It lays down that the amounts received by farmers as direct payments in 2000, 2001 and 2002 are one of the factors used to calculate aid under the new scheme. A system of premiums (special, deseasonalisation, suckler cow and slaughter premiums) and extensification payments remains in force, subject to certain conditions, in the form of additional payments to the farmer.

Since 1 July 2002 private storage aid has been granted where the average Community market price recorded is less than 103% of the basic price, set at €2 224 per tonne for male bovine animal carcases. The Council may adjust that price. From the same date, public intervention is triggered if the average market price in a Member State or region of a Member State falls below €1 560 per tonne for two consecutive weeks. In that event, the buying-in price and the quantities involved are determined by invitation to tender.

Trade with third countries

Import licences issued by Member States are required for imports into the Community of live bovine animals other than pure-bred breeding animals, meat and uncooked preserved or prepared products. No certificate is required for exports. For other products export/import licences are not compulsory, but can be provided for.

The Common Customs Tariff rates of duties apply to products in the beef and veal sector. In certain circumstances additional import duties may be levied on these products to protect the Community market. The tariff quotas which allocate a customs duty are administered on the basis of a number of methods established under this Regulation.

In order to enable products in this sector to be exported, the difference between the price in the Community and prices on the world market may be covered by export refunds. They are fixed at regular intervals and for given quantities by invitation to tender taking account of developments on the market.

Use of inward and outward processing arrangements may be prohibited where the smooth operation of the common market organisation so requires or in the event of a risk of disturbance on the Community market.

When trading with third countries, it is normally forbidden to impose charges having equivalent effect to customs duties or to apply any quantitative import restrictions or measures having the same effect.

Protective measures may be taken if the market may be disturbed as a result of imports or exports.

Other provisions

The Member States must monitor prices for bovine animals and beef and veal in accordance with the detailed rules laid down by the Commission.

Exceptional market-support measures may be taken where there is a sustained rise or fall in prices or when outbreaks of animal diseases occur. This support is given provided that the requesting Member State has taken suitable veterinary and health measures. The Community contribution to funding these exceptional measures varies depending on the disease in question.

The Commission is assisted by the Management Committee for Beef and Veal, composed of representatives of Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

Outermost regions

The outermost regions of the European Union (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Réunion, the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores) have specific measures, laid down by Regulation (EC) No 1455/2001, introducing specific limits for:

  • the number of animals eligible for special premiums;
  • maintaining suckler cow herds;
  • slaughter premiums.

Acceding countries

For more information on the changes to this common market organisation as a result of the entry of the new Member States, please consult the Act of Accession.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999 26.6.1999 1.1.2000 OJ L 160, 26.6.1999

Amending Act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1455/2001 24.7.2001 OJ L 198, 21.7.2001
Regulation (EC) No 1512/2001 26.7.2001 26.7.2001 OJ L 201, 26.7.2001
Regulation (EC) No 2345/2001 4.12.2001 OJ L 315, 01.12.2001
Acts concerning the accession of the Czech Republic, Republic of Estonia, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Latvia, Republic of Lithuania, Republic of Hungary, Republic of Malta, Republic of Poland, Republic of Slovenia and Slovak Republic to the EU. 1.5.2004 OJ L 236, 23.9.2003
Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 28.10.2003 Application from 2005, except for some partial implementation in 2003 and 2004. OJ L 270, 21.10.2003
Regulation (EC) No 1913/2005 2.12.2005 OJ L 307, 25.11.2005

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999 have been incorporated in the basic text. The consolidated version available here (pdf ) is intended purely as a documentation tool.

Related Acts

Classification

Regulation (EC) No1183/2006 [Official Journal L 214, 4.8.2006].

Community scale for the classification of carcases of adult bovine animals.

Regulation (EEC) No1186/90 [Official Journal L 119, 11.5.1990].
Extension of the scope of the Community scale for the classification of carcases of adult bovine animals.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Labelling

Regulation (EC) No1760/2000 [Official Journal L 204, 11.8.2000].
Bovine animal identification and registration system.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Animal-health measures

Decision64/432/EEC [Official Journal L 121, 29.7.1964].
Health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Decision80/1025/EEC [Official Journal L 304, 13.11.1980].
On-the-spot monitoring of the application of national plans for the eradication of brucellosis, tuberculosis and leucosis in cattle.

Regulation (EC) No639/2003 [Official Journal L 93, 10.4.2003].
Requirements for the granting of export refunds related to the welfare of live bovine animals during transport.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Support measures

Regulation (EC) No690/2001 [Official Journal L 95, 5.4.2001].
Special support measures in the beef sector.


Amended by:
Regulation (EC) No
1592/2001 [Official Journal L 210, 3.8.2001].
Regulation (EC) No
1648/2001 [Official Journal L 219, 14.8.2001].
Regulation (EC) No
2155/2001 [Official Journal L 289, 6.11.2001].
Regulation (EC) No
2595/2001 [Official Journal L 345, 29.12.2001].
Regulation (EC) No
1757/2005 [Official Journal L 285, 28.10.2005].

Storage

Regulation (EEC) No1805/77 [Official Journal L 198, 5.8.1977].
Storage and movement of products bought in by an intervention agency.

Intervention

Regulation (EC) No2561/2000 [Official Journal L 293, 22.11.2000].
Special provisions for the granting of private storage aid for cows.

Regulation (EC) No907/2000 [Official Journal L 105, 3.5.2000].
Private storage aid in the beef and veal sector.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Regulation (EC) No1669/2006 [Official Journal L 312, 11.11.2006].
Buying-in of beef.

See consolidated version (pdf )

Exports

Regulation (EC) No800/99 [Official Journal L 102, 17.4.1999].
Export refunds on agricultural products.
See consolidated version (pdf ).

Regulation (EC) No433/2007 [Official Journal L 104, 21.4.2007].
Conditions for granting special export refunds for beef and veal.

Regulation (EC) No 1359/2007 [Official Journal L 304, 22.11.2007];

Conditions for granting special export refunds on certain cuts of boned meat of bovine animals.

Regulation (EC) No 376/2008 [Official Journal L 114, 26.04.2008];

Application of the system of import and export licences and advance fixing certificates for agricultural products.

Imports

Regulation (EC) No2249/99 [Official Journal L 275, 26.10.1999].
Opening of a Community tariff quota for the import of meat of bovine animals, boneless and dried.

Regulation (EC) No 659/2007 [Official Journal L 155, 15.06.2007];

Opening and administration of tariff quotas for imports of bulls, cows and heifers other than for slaughter for certain Alpine and mountain breeds.

Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 [Official Journal L 348, 31.12.2007];

Regulation applicable to products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, laying down the arrangements provided for in the agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, Economic Partnership Agreements.

Regulation (EC) No 382/2008 [Official Journal 29.04.2008];

System of import and exports licences for beef and veal.

Decision 2008/155/EC [Official Journal 23.02.2008].

Approved list of embryo collection and production teams in third countries for the import of bovine embryos into the Community.