23 March 2000
French to keep ban on British beef
By Philip Clarke
FRANCE says it has no intention of lifting its ban on British beef, despite last weeks decision by Germany to end its embargo.
A spokesman for the French government said the country would continue to abide by the advice of its food safety authority that the ban should stay.
The decision was criticised by Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales, who said France was “out on a limb”.
He added: “This decision serves to further expose Frances refusal to lift the ban as no more than a stalling device to protect its own trade interests.”
Meanwhile, legal action against France for maintaining the ban is continuing its slow progress through the European Court in Luxembourg.
The commission published case details at the beginning of March, triggering a three-month consultation during which interested parties may make submissions.
The written observations will then will be processed by the courts officials, and the court will then set a date for oral hearings.
At this stage, the commission may decide whether or not to apply for fast tracking. A ruling before the end of the year still seems unlikely, however.