17 December 1999
EC boob gives France another two days
By FWi staff
A BLUNDER by the European Commission has meant the deadline for France to lift its ban on British beef has slipped by two days.
The commission admitted to a “small factual error” in the letter containing its warning giving France five days to comply or be taken to court.
The delay now means that Frances new deadline at midnight on Thursday comes after the final full commission meeting of the year.
A decision must now be made on Christmas Eve if any further action is to be taken this year.
The EC was forced to extend the deadline when it realised the letter sent to France did not say that the commission had received two letters from France.
“There was a small factual error. Therefore from a legal point of view it was felt better to send it again and the letter has now gone out last night,” an EC spokeswoman told BBC Onlineon Friday.
When commissioners meet on Wednesday they are likely to agree that food safety commissioner David Byrne can act alone to refer the case to the European Court of Justice on Christmas Eve if France has not obeyed.
Commissioners are also expected to give Mr Byrne the go-ahead to seek a court injunction forcing France to accept British beef.
However, it could take months to grant even this emergency measure.