16 November 2001

Be tough with France

EUROPEAN farm ministers and commissioners have been told to get tough with France, which continues to break EU law to protect its beef producers.

The latest breach involves a move by French farmers and meat traders to ban all beef imports during November.

NFU president, Ben Gill, demanded a return to normal trading. He has written to DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett, EU commissioners David Byrne and Franz Fischler, and French farm leader Jean-Michel Lemetayer.

"We are amazed and appalled at this action," said Mr Gill. "It strikes at the very principles of the single market. The government and commission must bring every pressure to bear on the French, forcing them to resume free trade in beef immediately."

The commercial impact on the UK will be limited due to the continuing effect of foot-and-mouth restrictions. But other member states, such as the Netherlands and Germany, are feeling the effects of French trade tactics for the first time. &#42