Food Law News - EU - 2001
DEFRA Press Release (291/01), 13 December 2001
BEEF - UK Government Welcomes European Court's Judgement that the French Ban on British Beef is Illegal
The UK Government strongly welcomed today's Judgement in the European Court of Justice that the French ban on British beef exports under the Date-based Export Scheme (DBES) was illegal.
The Judgement states that France was in breach of Community law for not accepting beef exported under the DBES from the UK.
The Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett said:
'I am delighted that the Judgement supports the case taken by the Commission. It vindicates the UK position of using the proper legal channels when Member States fail to implement EU legislation. We hope that the French Government will put in train the necessary measures to lift the ban.'
The Judgement of the Court is final and there is no recourse for appeal.
The following background notes are included:
- In March 1996, the Commission imposed a ban on the export of UK cattle, beef and beef products (Commission Decision 96/239/EC). The conclusions of the European Council held in Florence on 22 June 1996 set out the pre-conditions for the gradual removal of the ban.
- In March 1998, the ban was lifted in relation to Northern Ireland for beef and beef products produced under the Export Certified Herds Scheme (Commission Decision 98/256/EC).
- On 25 November 1998, the European Commission adopted Commission Decision 98/692/EC, which amended Commission Decision 98/256/EC to provide for the export from the UK of deboned beef and beef products under the strict conditions of the Date-based Export Scheme (DBES).
- The European Commission inspected the UK's Date-based Export Scheme procedures from 12-16 April 1999. The inspection was a requirement of the Florence agreement and Commission Decision 98/692/EC. The Commission's report confirmed that the UK's procedures met the condition of the scheme and the Commission announced on 14 July 1999 that exports under the Date-based Export Scheme (DBES) could begin on 1 August 1999 (see News Release 248/99).
- The European Commission began legal proceedings against the French Government for their failure to lift their import ban on UK beef on 16 November 1999. It submitted an application to the European Court of Justice on 4 January 2000. The UK intervened in support of the Commission in written proceedings and at the Oral Hearing in Luxembourg on 19 June.
- The Advocate General delivered his Opinion, the purpose of which is to assist the Court in reaching its decision, on 20 September 2001.
- The Judgement of the Court is that by refusing to permit the marketing in its territory after 30 December 1999 of DBES beef which is correctly marked or labelled, the French Republic has failed to fulfil its obligations.
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