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Estonia races to meet food import standards

  • 2004-03-25
  • Baltic News Service
TALLINN - Most of Estonia's border checkpoints will stop handling food imports from non-EU countries after accession on May 1 because of the lack of facilities allowing authorities to conduct veterinary checks in accordance with EU requirements.

The checkpoints will close for all kinds of food of animal origin and live animals, the business daily Aripaev reported.
While the country is busy erecting buildings for food inspection at several checkpoints on the border, these won't be ready in time for EU accession. The manager of the Estonian Port Operators Association, Ago Tiiman, said it is clear that the Baltic state will not be able to obtain the necessary certificates for all its key border checkpoints by May 1. He explained that even if the buildings were ready by then, finding adequate staff to operate them usually would take three to four months.
With the country facing these pending problems, it is surprising that part of Latvia's foodstuffs transit has started to move through Estonia, said Tiiman.
However, unlike Estonia, Latvia does not currently possess a single food checking facility at its seaports that meets the EU requirements, nor does it have a checkpoint allowing authorities to conduct veterinary checks on the railway.
The two Estonian checkpoints that will remain open to foodstuffs from third countries after May 1 are situated in Paldiski South Port in the northwest and at the Luhamaa checkpoint on the Estonian-Russian border in the country's southeast.
Two others will be opened at Muuga Port near Tallinn and at the border checkpoint in Narva in northeast Estonia. These additional checkpoints will likely begin functioning in the fall if the state-owned Port of Tallinn and the government's real estate administrator Riigi Kinnisvara complete construction, which costs some 30 million kroons (1.9 million euros), by May 1.