20 September 2001
French beef ban illegal, says judge

By FWi staff

FRANCES refusal to accept British beef under the Date-Based Export Scheme is illegal, a European Court judge has ruled.

European advocate-general Jean Mischo issued an opinion saying France could not refuse to accept direct imports of UK beef.

The news will be welcomed by British livestock farmers, who have always insisted that France has no right to ban imports of British beef.

But Frances refusal to lift the ban on indirect imports was justified because traceability and labelling rules are incomplete, Mr Mischo added.

A complete set of rules are due to come into force next year.

In the meantime, it looks like France may be able to maintain its ban on indirect imports of British beef in processed meat coming via third countries.

The European Court of Justice is expected to issue its final judgement on the situation in about 6-12 weeks time.

But it would be extremely unusual for the final judgement to contradict the views of the advocate-general.