4 April 1997

Challenge to labels and ID

EU commission officials are to take a decision on beef labelling and cattle identification rules made by farm ministers to the European Court of Justice.

The legal challenge follows a unanimous decision by EU farm ministers to limit the European parliaments involvement in decision making.

The commission had planned to give Euro MPs full rights of co-determination. But, to ensure the rules were introduced as rapidly as possible, farm ministers agreed to change the legal base of the legislation. That meant MEPs would be able to deliver an opinion only.

The legal challenge will not halt the introduction of the rules. And a commission spokesman insisted it was fighting on behalf of EU consumers. Beef labelling was a public health issue and MEPs should be given a full role in decision making, the spokesman said.

The commission has already pledged to increase Euro MPs powers after they threatened a vote of no-confidence in the commission over its mismanagement of the BSE crisis. &#42