Food Law News - EU - 1997

26 June 1997: BSE - Commission opens infringement proceedings

Brussels (ip/97/567), 26 June 1997

Commission opens infringement proceedings against 10 Member States in relation to BSE.

The European Commission on 26 June 1997 decided to open the first stage of infringement proceedings under Article 169 of the EC Treaty against 10 Member States in respect of their apparent partial failure to implement and/or enforce some aspects of European Union (EU) Legislation concerning Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathies (BSE). The Member States are :
France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany , Spain, Sweden, Finland, Italy and Portugal.

The decision concerns the first stage of the proceedings, namely the dispatch of letters of formal notice giving the Member States concerned the opportunity of submitting their observations within one month. The presumed infringements are principally inadequate implementation of Commission Decision 96/449/EC (heat treatment system for processing animal waste) and failure to sufficiently control the respect of Commission Decision 94/381/EC prohibiting the use of mammalian tissues in feeding stuffs destined for ruminants. Commenting on the decision, Mr Franz FISCHLER, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the meticulous implementation of all legislation relating to BSE is vital if it is to be eradicated and the possible risks to human health pending eradication are to be avoided. Given that some of the shortfalls could be relatively easily resolved, Mr FISCHLER expressed the hope that member states would address these matters as soon as possible so that the infringement procedures can be terminated.

1. France

2. Belgium and 3. Luxembourg

4. Netherlands


6. Spain

7. Sweden

8. Finland

9. Italy

10. Portugal

In respect of the United Kingdom the number of veterinary inspection visits which have taken place, the obligation imposed on that Member State to supply reports on BSE developments every 2 weeks and the meticulous attention of the Commission to the examination of National Legislation, complaints, press reports etc. appears at the present time to have prevented the maintenance of prima facie infringements.

The Commission Veterinary Inspectorate envisage a series of missions during the current year in order to update information on compliance with their Community obligations in respect of BSE of all Member States including those not subject to the infringement proceedings now being opened.

The Commission is also currently examining a number of complaints against Member States where it is alleged that single market obligations have been infringed by unilateral national measures going beyond those introduced at the Community level.

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