1 November 1999
German regions hold out against beef
CONTINUED German resistance to lifting the countrys ban on British beef – just as French opposition appears to be weakening – preoccupies todays newspapers.
Seven of Germanys 16 regional governments announced over the weekend that they were against lifting the BSE ban, despite EU scientists saying British beef was safe.
On Friday, the EU scientific steering committee rejected French evidence being used to justify its continuation of the EU ban which was lifted in August.
French ministers are to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss this, and there are signs that the ban may be relaxed.
But British euphoria at the EU decision was dashed by the news that German resistance seems to be growing.
Bavarian agriculture minister Josef Miller said: “As long as there are new outbreaks in Britain, one cannot lift the import ban.”
The German government needs parliamentary approval to lift its ban. A decision has to be passed by the upper house, in which the regional governments are represented.
“Germans refuse to budge on beef,” reports The Times, while The Daily Telegraph says there is “the threat of a second front in the European beef war”.
The Express describes the German stance as “astonishing”.
Its editorial says this action makes it difficult for Prime Minister Tony Blair and agriculture minister Nick Brown who had rejected calls for a national boycott of French produce.
It claims “their strategy of calm rationality and the force of law looks to have been vindicated with France” but is so far “ineffective” against the Germans “who are acting irrationally.”
The newspaper says calls for retaliation must be resisted as “the moral high ground is the only place to be”.
The Express also prints a cartoon of the Prime Minister ordering Mr Brown to tell the press that he is not indulging in a “petty and short-sighted” personal boycott of sauerkraut and lederhosen.
Mr Browns personal decision to boycott French produce was at variance with the Government line, and was not supported by fellow ministers.