Commission withdraws beef fines against France

On 13 November 2002, the Commission decided to withdraw its application to the Court of Justice for a fine against France, following the analysis of the French transposition law allowing for imports of British beef.

The Commission withdrew its demand to impose fines on France for refusing to lift the ban on British beef imports. The decision comes following a careful analysis of the French transposition of EU legislation, allowing for exports of British beef under strict conditions, within the framework of the so-called "Date Based Export Scheme". The Commission turned again to the Court of Justice, following France's failure to implement the Court's judgment (13 December 2001), ordering France to lift the British beef embargo.

A Court case still remains open, however, to address the Commission's claim that the costs of the legal case be borne by France, as the French authorities failed to comply with the judgment of the Court within the deadline set in the reasoned opinion.

The UK Government has expressed disappointment over the Commission's decision not to pursue the case and to impose penalties against France. The UK believes that "pressing this case would have sent a firm message to member states that no one country can avoid its obligations and responsibilities."

The French ban on British beef was imposed six years ago over fears about the deadly 'mad cow disease'. France decided to lift the ban on 2 October 2002, following an opinion from France's food safety agency (AFSSA) that British beef "posed a negligible risk of causing the human form of mad cow, variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD)".


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