29 October 1999
EU scientists reject French beef ban
By Donald MacPhail
EUROPEAN scientists meeting in Brussels have unanimously agreed that there are no grounds for the French ban on British beef.
All 16 members of the EU scientific steering committee rejected a French report which claimed to have fresh evidence on why British beef should be banned.
European food commissioner David Byrne announced the findings of the group, saying the report was comprehensive, reasoned and balanced.
“The committee has confirmed unanimously that there is no need to review the decision to lift the ban on UK beef experts,” he said.
The committees conclusions have already been sent to the European Parliament, where the report will be discussed next Wednesday.
Mr Byrne said he had contacted representatives of the British, French and German governments and expected to discuss the matter with agriculture ministers next week.
The steering committee decision will come as a relief to the British government which had placed its faith in the committee rejecting the French grounds for its ban.
This unanimous decision gives a strong case for EC legal action against France should it continue refuse to lift the ban against British beef.
The worldwide ban on the export of British beef was lifted by the EU in August. But France continued a unilateral ban, citing concerns about British BSE figures.
Germany has also imposed a ban on British beef, but has indicated that this would be lifted by the end of the year.
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