15 March 2002

French refuse to lift beef ban

FRANCE has indicated that it will not lift its ban on British beef for at least three months, despite having been told by the European court three months ago it is acting illegally.

New farm minister Francois Patriat said on Tues, Mar 12 there was no chance of any relaxation this side of parliamentary elections in June. In particular, France complains that the UK has not carried out enough tests on over-30-month cattle compared with other member states.

But the statement has drawn an angry response from UK farming bodies. "The French government is flouting EU law for its own political reasons," said NFU Scotland president, Jim Walker. "The unilateral ban is nothing short of blatant protectionism."

Junior DEFRA minister, Lord Whitty, added his weight, calling on the commission in Brussels to take the French back to court so that fines can be imposed. &#42