The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on December 13 last year that the French ban on imports of British beef produced in accordance with Date Based Export Scheme is illegal.
The Commission has today issued a 'reasoned opinion' against the French Government which outlines the points on which France has failed to comply with the Judgment and sets a time limits for compliance.
This is a further step towards enforcement of the ECJ ruling. France now has 15 days to respond to the 'reasoned opinion' after which the Commission may take the case back to the European Court of Justice to enforce its earlier Judgment. If the Court rules against France, it could be subject to substantial financial penalties.
The Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett said:
'I welcome this move by the Commission. France must understand that if it continues to flout EU law it will pay the penalty for doing so. However, I hope that France will move swiftly to lift its illegal ban'.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled the French ban on imports of British beef produced in accordance with the Date Based Export Scheme is illegal on 13 December 2001. To date, France has failed to comply with this Judgment.
Article 228 of the Treaty of Amsterdam makes provisions for the Commission to take action where a Member State has failed to comply with a Judgment of the ECJ. After giving the Member State the opportunity to submit its observations, the Commission may issue a 'reasoned opinion' specifying the points on which the Member State concerned has not complied with the Judgment of the Court. If the Member State fails to take the necessary measures to comply with Court's Judgment within the time-limit laid down by the Commission, the latter may bring the case back before the ECJ. In so doing the Commission will specify the amount of a lump sum or penalty payment to be paid by the member state which it considers appropriate in the circumstances. If the Court finds that the Member State has not complied with its Judgment it may impose a lump sum or penalty payment on it.