15 February 2000
EU to start beef action against Germans

By FWi staff

EU food safety commissioner David Byrne is expected to launch legal proceedings against Germany on Tuesday (15 February) for its failure to lift its ban on British beef.

Mr Byrne will recommend sending an official warning letter, which could trigger legal action.

The German cabinet has already expressed its willingness to lift the ban, but this must be approved by German upper house – the Bundesrtat.

The Bundesrat will consider the issue on 17 March. However, it is believed at least five state governments represented there want to retain the ban.

The warning letter from the European Commission will give Germany a deadline to explain why it has not lifted the ban, as the EU agreed all member states should last August.

But this deadline will fall after the Bundesrat meets. If it still refuses to lift the ban, the legal process will continue.

When the EU lifted its three-and-a-half-year BSE ban on British beef in August last year France and Germany still refused to accept British beef, citing health fears.

Legal action has already been launched against France.

Meanwhile, French farm minister Jean Glavany is reported to have admitted that his countrys own BSE problem is worse that thought.

Mr Glavany is said to have told Le Monde newspaper that the introduction of a new screening programme will give France a “better understanding” of the prevalence of the disease.

He added that “possibly, based on what was revealed in Switzerland, we will have to upwardly revise our estimates”.

Testing in Switzerland revealed three cases of BSE among 7000 cattle previously assumed to be safe for the table.

Six cases of BSE have been reported in France already this year.