27 March 1998

EUimport figures boob

BUREAUCRATS in Brussels are set to receive a sharp reprimand from a top EU official after farmers weekly uncovered a blunder in beef import figures published in the EUs official journal.

The journal, which records EU Commission decisions, stated that the UK issued an import licence for 540,000t of beef from Botswana and 250,000t of beef from Namibia on Jan 21.

Such huge quantities of beef would have swamped the UK market as total imports from third or non countries amounted to only 83,307t in 1996/97.

The EU document added that licence applications could be submitted during the first 10 days in February for imports amounting to an additional 18,086,000t of boned beef from Botswana and 12,747,000t from Namibia.

A senior commission official told FW that there must be something wrong with the figures. He pointed out that EU beef imports, including live animals, totalled 500,000t a year.

FW contacted head of the commissions beef division, Propser de Winne, who said he would check the figures. Later Mr De Winne said it was "just a question of a point instead of a comma". That meant the figures should have read 540t and 250t for the UK.

He said errors of this kind often happened in the English version of the commission journal and he would be looking to correct them.