15 October 1999
Brussels beef delay angers Britain

THE European Commissions decision to delay for two weeks formal action against France over its ban on British beef has roused anger among farmers.

Meeting yesterday Brussels scientists failed to finalise an evaluation of whether the French government had produced new evidence to justify continuing the ban.

They will now meet on 25 October. The likelihood is that their views will be forwarded to the European Unions scientific steering committee for a formal recommendation to the Commission on 28 October.

Gerard Pascal, who chairs the scientific steering committee, said in a French newspaper yesterday that it was possible that a ban would be re-imposed on British beef exports.

The French food agency has come forward with two concerns about lifting the ban.

It fears parts of cattle previously thought to be free of BSE could be contaminated and that there was a disparity between actual and predicted rates of BSE decline in the UK.

The British government says the decline is in the predicted range.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, dismissed the French action as protectionism.

The Times reports the story of a French restaurateur working in Britain who has outlawed dishes from his native country in protest at its British beef ban.