Most East European countries which were called satellite countries of the erstwhile USSR before 1990 are emerging out of darkness vis-a-vis human development and the EU is trying to integrate them into a larger community with common ideals and aspirations. In the food front also gross deficiencies are observed because of decades of isolation due to the "protectionist" and inward looking policies of Russia. Present efforts by the EU to upgrade the institutions and professional base in some of these countries is praise worthy though the driving force may be the desire to protect the Euro Citizens from food dangers from across the borders. Here is a take on this new development.
'Despite the existence of highly skilled individuals and institutions in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Belarus (RUAB), their participation in EU Framework Programmes (FP) is low. This is mainly due to lack of knowledge about the food quality and safety sector and inexperience in submission proposals. Therefore, there is a great need for relevant education in RUAB countries and for raising awareness in Europe of skilled partners in these countries that could potentially participate in EU FPs. With that in mind, the EU 'East European Co-operation Network for International Joint Training in FP6/FP7 Food Quality and Safety for EU-Russia-Ukraine-Armenia-Belarus (R-U-A-B) Countries' (INJOY AND TRAIN) project focused to improve the food sector in RUAB countries. The consortium created a network of researchers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in these countries and trained them in the legislative environment of EU framework plans. Additionally, extensive know-how on submission procedures was provided to assist future participation in EU FPs. Through the development of a website, the consortium disseminated information regarding the human and institutional potential of these countries in the food sector. One of the fundamental activities of the consortium was to directly inform food operators and the agriculture and biotechnology sectors about food quality and safety in order to enhance the food quality standards in these countries".
Though these countries have been geographically contiguous to the more prosperous West European nations, there is a wide disparity in their living standards as they were poor enough to buy the luxuries that characterize the population of their more affluent neighbors.
Now that efforts like the training programs cited above are initiated, it is a question of time before they are able to catch up with other countries in the continent. Probably it is in the interest of the hard pressed EU countries to give a helping hand to uplift their neighbors and make the quality of food safety activities on par with that of their own. India which is a slow giant to wake up to the modern global needs of food safety regime can also try to link up with the EU for similar programs for rapid upgrade of its safety vigilance and assessment infrastructure which can improve its credentials as a country which values quality and safety for both its own citizens as well as for the global community.