In March 1998, the Council lifted the ban, subject to strict conditions, for certain meat and meat products derived from bovine animals slaughtered in Northern Ireland.
By a Decision of 25 November 1998, the Commission adopted the principle of permitting the export of bovine products under a Date Based Export Scheme (DBES). Pursuant to that Decision, the Commission, by its Decision of 23 July 1999, set the date of 1 August 1999 as the date from which the export of bovine meat products from the United Kingdom could recommence.
The French authorities, after consulting AFFSA (Agence Franšaise de SÚcuritÚ Sanitaire des Aliments) considered that the risk of contamination of bovine animals by BSE from other routes than the two known routes, namely feed and maternal transmission, could not be ruled out.
In those circumstances, and despite an opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee referred to by the Commission, France did not lift its ban.
The Commission therefore brought an action before the Court of Justice of the European Communities on 4 January 2000 for a declaration that France had failed to fulfil its Community obligations by not applying the Commission's Decision.
The Commission is supported by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities will deliver its judgment on 13 December 2001.