26 November 1999
French beef ban nears resolution

BRITAIN and France have formally resolved their differences over the ban on French imports of British beef, according to todays papers.

Lionel Jospin, the French prime minister meeting Tony Blair, said the decision was now in the hands of the French food safety agency AFSA.

AFSA is expected to deliver a judgement on five new safety procedures agreed between the two countries for British beef by 2 December.

Mr Jospin said he hoped the French government would be able to take a final decision two days later.

He fought shy of forecasting what the result would be although Jacques Chirac, the French president who also met Mr Blair, was more positive.

Mr Chirac said he looked forward to eating British beef in the ElysÈe palace once the embargo was lifted.

Mr Blair, who is due to hold talks next week with the National Farmers Union, reiterated an earlier statement that no concessions had been made to France.

In the Commons, Nick Brown, the agriculture secretary, rejected calls to take legal action against Germany over its ban on British beef.