TRACES , or Tra de C ontrol and E xpert S ystem, is a web-based veterinarian certification tool used by the European Union for controlling the import and export of live animals and animal products within and without its borders.
Its network falls under the responsibility of the European Commission. TRACES constitutes a key element of how the European Union facilitates trade and improves health protection for the consumer, as laid down in the First Pillar principle. Other countries use computer networks to provide veterinary certification, but TRACES is the only supranational network in the world working at a continental scale of 28 countries and almost million people.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, following the development of modern veterinary medicine and food safety , European states have built, in parallel with customs structures, veterinary inspection stations located at the borders known as Border Inspection Posts.
There all goods of animal origin including live animals are checked in order to avoid outbreaks of zoonoses and epizooties. Following the development of office computerisation and computer networking in the '80s, many countries started to think about veterinary computer certification. In the s, according to the its first pillar , the European Union began studying how to provide a European-scale computer network dedicated to food safety and animal health with the aim of strengthening the single European market and the protection of consumers.
TRACES stands for "Trade Control and Expert System", this acronym enhances the traceability aspect which constitutes the core element of the system and is a key factor of food safety. It is based on a network using internet veterinary authorities of member states and participating non-EU countries.
Through it, central and local authorities, border inspection posts and economics operators are linked. It provides electronic sanitary certificates mandatory for tracking goods and live animals: TRACES sends an electronic message from the departure point to the transfer point and the arrival point to notify that a consignment is arriving.
Similarly, every concerned point sends a message to other points which enables a well-developed follow up of the consignment goods or animals movement. It provides the ad-hoc European Union legislation, manages the non-EU country establishment list  which is the agreed-upon list for importing into the EU, and keeps on file the rejected consignments and the reason for rejection.
Economic operators are able to start the process electronically by filling in the first part of the mandatory certificates for importing goods and animals into the EU.
Its next step will be electronic certification without any paperwork. The Commission launched an invitation to tender in December ANIMO was only able to send messages and lacked interactivity with veterinary authorities.
At the beginning of the s, the internet and all other networks were not in common use; this may explain why people were so reluctant to use AMINO. ANIMO was able to trace the origin of animals and goods in the event of problems and to warn veterinary authorities providing that data had been introduced into the system which was not done systematically. The system was lacking a database on European legislation about importation from non-EU countries.
This resulted in a loss of time at border inspection posts, as one had to wait for the proper legislation to be found. ANIMO was also devoted only to live animals. It did not keep track of data concerning those rejected or goods rejected; a rejected consignment was able to try at another entry point at another border post. More generally, this old system did not keep track of movements of animals or goods in the EU or their importation.
Article 1 stated, "The Commission shall be responsible for drawing up a programme for the development of computerization of veterinary importation procedures Shift project. Again this decision gave the Commission the responsibility of organising a computer network. SHIFT was designed to electronically manage the sanitary aspects of animal and animal products coming from non-EU countries.
It was divided into three parts. CIRD, or Community Import Requirement Database, was dispatched to veterinary officials in border inspection posts the legislation necessary for imports. It was also supposed to control the valid data of consignments. The impossibility of updating this database in real time was the main reason for its failure. With RCS, or Rejected Consignments System, all information regarding rejected animals and animal products was kept in a database to make sure they would not try to enter through the border somewhere else.
This worked as a prototype in Greece and Belgium. These establishments were approved to import into the EU by the veterinary authority of their country and listed by the Commission in this database. Again, in , following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease during the Parliament [ which? TRACES has been developed with inside competencies [ clarification needed ] , not with an external host centre. TRACES provides electronic, with the possibility to print, veterinary and sanitary certificates which are mandatory with consignments during import and movement in the EU.
These certificates follow both live animals and animal products as they travel to and through the EU. At each step of transport, at the border inspection post for example, TRACES provides an electronic message to whomever is concerned by this movement.
If a main problem of public health or animal health is identified during an inspection, this notification is twinned by a notification in the RASFF alert network. These establishments have to be approved by the veterinary authorities of their country before being listed by the Commission. This procedure allows them the right to import to the EU. When filling in the certificate the economic operator has only to call up his own establishment in the list and tick the box.
TRACES provides EU legislation covering the required field for each certificate, imposes the physical checks applicable and the reinforced checks. Traceability is the core element of the system. TRACES keeps track of every importation or movement in the EU of animals or animal products which allows tracing instantaneously the journey in case of serious problem. More precisely data about rejected consignments, and especially the reasons of rejection, are kept for the same purpose.
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