Food Law News - EU - 2002

Commission Press Release (IP/02/938), 26 June 2002

BEEF - Reasoned opinion sent to France for non-compliance with Court judgment on British beef

Under the EU-Treaty (Article 228(1)) a Member State is obliged to implement a judgment of the European Court of Justice. On 13 December 2001, the Court declared France's refusal to lift its ban on British beef and bovine products complying with the Date Based Export Scheme (DBES) as unlawful (C-1/00). Thus, France was obliged to implement the relevant EU rules and to allow the resumption of imports of correctly marked or labelled British DBES beef and products to France. Such implementation measures have still not been communicated to the European Commission by France. The Commission has therefore sent today a Reasoned Opinion to France indicating the infringement of that Member State in relation to its failure to comply with the above-mentioned Court judgment. France has been given 15 days in order to terminate the infringement by adopting the measures necessary to comply with the Court's judgment.

Since 1 August 1999 British beef can be exported under the so-called DBES system (date-based export scheme) which sets strict conditions ( for example only deboned meat of bovines between 6-30 months of age complying with very detailed requirements and originating in dedicated meat plants).

Article 228 of the EU Treaty established the legal procedure to follow if a Member State does not comply with a Court of Justice judgment. After a letter of formal notice, a reasoned opinion is addressed to the Member State concerned specifying the points in respect of which the failure to comply with the judgment continues and requesting compliance within a specified time limit. If non-compliance continues, the Commission may again bring the case before the Court and in so doing it is required to specify the amount of the financial penalty which it considers should be imposed on the Member State in default . The Court is free to decide on whether to impose such a penalty payment and is not bound by any amount suggested by the Commission.

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