New laws to control foot-and-mouth epidemics could give the European Commission powers to order the vaccination of livestock.
Proposals being discussed in Brussels would boost the role of David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, in controlling an outbreak.
Officials are drafting a new directive designed to improve the control of disease because of last year's epidemic in the UK. The commission sees vaccination as an important means of controlling foot-and-mouth while culling is organised.
The new directive will have to be agreed by farm ministers, some of whom are certain to want to restrict the Commission's powers.
In the European Parliament yesterday, Mr Byrne said that, if the plans were approved, the commission would have the power to require vaccination.
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