A potential EU policy shift towards emergency vaccination for FMD outbreaks has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union.
In a speech to Euro MPs, EU health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne said emergency vaccination should be "moved to the forefront of the response mechanism" to combat further outbreaks.
Byrne was previewing long-awaited European Commission proposals for revised rules on the disease in order to reflect the lessons learnt from last years devastating outbreak.
The precise details have yet to be finalised, but Byrne made it clear that vaccination must play a more important role.
The moves were welcomed by the NFU. A spokesman said: "This is something we've been calling for for some time. This needs to be made a weapon in the armoury for dealing with FMD."
Byrne has also sent out a strong signal that vaccinated meat should not need to be labelled as such on the supermarket shelves.
During last year's outbreak, UK retailers suggested they would have to label vaccinated meat which could stigmatise it with consumers. However, Byrne told Euro MPS that the EU already imports meat vaccinated against a range of diseases without any special labelling and that this "policy should remain intact" if vaccination were used in future outbreaks.
He said consumers must accept that vaccinated meat is safe in order for the method to become more viable.
Other stumbling blocks to emergency vaccination have now disappeared. New diagnostic tests have been developed to differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals, for example.
The Commission's proposals are now expected to be published in November, and must then be sanctioned by the 15 member states.