12 October 1999
Europe will see through ‘lies’ over beef

NFU president Ben Gill is confident the European Commission will see through a “tissue of lies” and force France to lift its ban on British beef.

Once this has been lifted, Germany will follow suit and remove its current ban on British beef, Mr Gill predicted on Radio 4s Farming Today programme.

This comes after days of attempts by politicians and farming leaders to resolve the situation, seen by many as a protectionist measure by France to protect its own industry.

The European Commission and scientist are to look at the French reasons for the ban in the next couple of days.

“When they see it as the tissue of lies I believe it to be, then well have a clear position from which the commission can work,” said Mr Gill.

Mr Gill said Germany was going through a complicated bureaucratic procedure to lift the ban, and most concerns had been answered by Britain.

He said the Germans indicated that as soon as Britain sorts out the ban with France they will proceed with their process towards lifting the ban.

In the meantime, Mr Gill is heading to Brussels to try to allay the fears of journalists and consumers about the safety of British beef.

While saying he could understand planned farmers “utter anger and frustration that the French seem to be able to wish to ignore European law”, he was concerned about planned protests.

“We must be very careful. We must not arrive at situation where we incite a situation in France, as we have substantial sheep exports to think of as well.”