23 November 1999
No beef result before Thursday?

By FWi staff

THE British beef dispute may not be resolved before the Anglo-French summit takes place in London on Thursday.

The Prime Ministers official spokesman said today (Tuesday) that the Government remained optimistic that the row could be sorted out without recourse to legal action, reports the London Evening Standard.

But the spokesman admitted: “There is unlikely to be a resolution before the summit”.

The French food safety agency AFSA is meeting today to consider whether to recommend that the boycott should be lifted.

It is being urged to accept what France calls new concessions over labelling and diagnostic tests for BSE.

The British government insists there is no climbdown and no change in current law was being proposed with labelling. It says the European Commission is simply detailing existing regulations

Rejection by the independent food agency would make it impossible for the French government to move, says the Standard.

Even if AFSA accepts there are now sufficient safeguards, there will need to be a further meeting of French ministers.

The French food safety agency started the beef dispute when it refused to endorse the EU decision in August to lift the BSE ban on British beef, as was still unconvinced about its safety.

France and Germany have continued to boycott British beef.

France has only a week to extricate itself from the dispute before the next stage of legal action.