5 January 2000
Beef action ‘could take 18 months’
By FWi staff
COURT action against France over its refusal to lift the ban on British beef will take at least 18 months, according to a European Commission official.
Brussels began action against the French on Tuesday (4 January) by delivering a vanload of legal documents to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
The documents accuse France of breaching the European Unions founding treaty by failing to comply with a decision agreed by member states.
But a commission spokesman said he would be surprised if a result was achieved before the middle of next year.
It could at least 18 months to resolve the case – largely because of the amount of time involved in translating the legal papers, he said.
About half of that time would be taken up translating the necessary documents into French and English, the spokesman added.
The court must also consider a counter-claim by France which argues that the commission has failed to properly recognise safety concerns over British beef.
Brussels now seems unlikely to ask the court for an interim injunction forcing France to lift the ban while it awaits for the outcome of the case.