05 May 1998
EU court upholds ban on British beef
By FWi staff
A GOVERNMENT and industry attempt to have the global ban on British beef exports declared illegal has failed, following a ruling by European court judges in Luxembourg today (Tuesday).
The European Court of Justice ruled that the European Commission had not acted illegally when it slapped its worldwide ban on the export of British beef in March 1996.
There were two separate but related cases brought against the EC. One was from the Government and the other from the beef industry, which had the backing of the National Farmers Union.
According to the ruling, the Commission had acted within its powers in seeking to contain BSE within the bounds of the UK.
Britains argument, that European leaders and bureaucrats imposed the ban on economic grounds to quell the slump in beef consumption following the BSE outbreak, was refuted. The court said there was no misuse of powers because the ban related to issues of consumer concern.
The final ruling was in line with the preliminary opinion issued by the courts Advocate General in September last year, which also upheld the legality of the ban.
Ben Gill, NFU president, expressed disappointment but said he was confident that progress being made meant the lifting of the ban was now in sight.
“The Government and our industry have taken enormous strides towards lifting the ban over the last few months. The EU agriculture councils decision to accept the Northern Ireland export certified-herds scheme in March is a key step,” he said.
“We will now redouble our efforts in working with the Government to ensure that there is a speedy approval of the Date-Based Export scheme, which is also being considered by Brussels.”
The UKs favoured Date-Based Export scheme would allow the export of cattle born after 1 August, 1996 – the date after which it became illegal for any meat and bonemeal to be held on farms or feedmills.