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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 17:50 GMT
EC warns France over UK beef
Scientists test for BSE
France remains sceptical about British beef
The European Commission has given France "a letter of formal notice" telling it to end its ban on British beef.

The commission ended a three-and-a-half-year ban on British beef exports in the summer of 1999, imposed because of fears of the presence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) - or mad cow disease.

And the European Union's highest court, the European Court of Justice, ruled in December that France was acting illegally by continuing to ban the meat.

The commission has now embarked on a three-stage legal process by sending a letter of warning to which France is expected to respond within 30 days.


The commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to France identifying France's infringement of the court judgment

European Union executive

The move could end in a return to the European Court of Justice, which could impose a fine on France for failing to comply with its earlier ruling.

"The commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to France identifying France's infringement of the court judgment," the European Union executive said in a statement.

Lucrative export

European food safety commissioner David Byrne suggested the move on Monday following a meeting of EU farm ministers.

The discussions included some between UK environment minister Margaret Beckett and the new French farm minister Francois Patriat.

Last week Mr Patriat said his government would not look at the ban before elections in June.

Britain has consistently called for an end to the measure, which has closed off a lucrative source of export for British farmers.

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Conservative agriculture spokesman Peter Ainsworth
"There is no justification"

CJD

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13 Mar 02 | Europe
Call to fine France over beef ban
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