3 January 2000
Beef action delayed until Tuesday
by FWi staff
LEGAL action by the European Commission against the French government over its continuing ban on British beef is now expected to start on Tuesday (4 Jan).
The commission was expected to file a formal outline of the case against France at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Monday (3 Jan).
But complicated legal preparations meant Brussels officials were unable to deliver to the court all the necessary documents outlining the case.
They decided to delay the start of court action against France by one day and use the time to make sure their legal argument is watertight.
Once the documents are submitted, lengthy European legal procedures mean it could be at least 12 months before oral hearings take place.
The commission must first wait until an outline of its case is published in the court gazette and a judge is appointed to establish the facts.
That could take many months, not least because the commission has yet to decide whether to ask the court to speed up the case.
Although a fast-track approach would lead to a quicker result, it is thought there would be less chance of the court finding in the commissions favour.
The case is further complicated by a French claim that Brussels has failed to adopt the “precautionary principle” and prove that all British beef is safe from BSE.