` Italy 'Not Respecting Obligations' to Eradicate Xylella, EU Says

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Italy 'Not Respecting Obligations' to Eradicate Xylella, EU Says

Dec. 11, 2015
By Ylenia Granitto

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The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has sent Italy a let­ter as the first step of an infrac­tion pro­ce­dure, since Italy is not fully respect­ing the oblig­a­tions in the plan to erad­i­cate Xylella,” Enrico Brivio, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman for health and food safety, said.

Xylella fas­tidiosa is a bac­terium that causes the Olive Quick Decline Syn­drome, and affects other impor­tant crops, orna­men­tal plants, and for­est plant species. Europe is con­cerned about the eco­nomic con­se­quences of the spread of the dis­ease.

The deci­sion to open an infrac­tion pro­ce­dure against Italy is based on the results of the inspec­tion con­ducted by the Food and Vet­eri­nary Office FVO last Novem­ber, and on the eval­u­a­tion of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion,” Brivio said.

Italy is not imple­ment­ing all its com­mit­ments on erad­i­ca­tion, con­tain­ment and sur­veil­lance of Xylella.- Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman

Accord­ing to EU’s exec­u­tive body, Italy is not imple­ment­ing all its com­mit­ments on erad­i­ca­tion, con­tain­ment and sur­veil­lance of Xylella.” The results of the FVO inspec­tion will be pre­sented at the next Com­mit­tee on Plant Health, sched­uled for Decem­ber 16 and 17, the EC spokesman said.

The erad­i­ca­tion of dis­eased trees have not been suf­fi­cient to reas­sure the EU that Italy is doing all it should to con­tain the out­break.

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The pro­ce­dures imposed by Brus­sels were con­tained in the mea­sures approved in May which were imple­mented by Italy only in late June, and applied first in July. A sec­ond plan that the Spe­cial Com­mis­sioner Giuseppe Sil­letti pre­sented in Sep­tem­ber demanded the erad­i­ca­tion of about 3,000 olive trees in the provinces of Lecce and Brin­disi.

Italy had obtained a delay due to con­tin­u­ous appeals by envi­ron­men­tal asso­ci­a­tions and Apu­lia farm­ers of the for­mal notice, which was pre­pared two months ago. But after a rea­son­able period of time and after the com­mit­ments to the EC were again dis­re­garded, the let­ter was sent.

In Octo­ber, the Lazio regional admin­is­tra­tive court (TAR) blocked a new cull of Xylella-infected olive trees on lands owned by 21 farm­ers. TAR pro­hib­ited the cut­ting of healthy trees, as close as 100 meters from the dis­eased ones, thereby reduc­ing by far the num­ber of trees to be felled. Of the 3,000 olive tree planned, today about 1,600 have been erad­i­cated.

After this pre-lit­i­ga­tion, the next step might be the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice and the pos­si­ble sanc­tions against Italy, such as a fine and the exten­sion of the embargo on exports nurs­eries, for the moment lim­ited to the area of​south­ern Apu­lia. The gov­ern­ment now has sixty days to sub­mit his rebut­tal.

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