The move was immediately welcomed by Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown:
"This is good news for Britain's farmers and for the country as a whole. It shows that we are proving our case on the science, and that the EU procedures we have followed since the Florence Agreement are working for the UK. There is still work to be done. The issue will now go to the Council of Agriculture Ministers later this month where I hope it will be settled."
The decision today was taken by the EU's Standing Veterinary Committee, which gave a simple majority in favour of allowing the Date Based Export Scheme to go ahead. Eight countries voted in favour, five against, and there were two abstentions. If this vote is repeated in the Agriculture Council the way will be open for British beef from cattle born after 1 August 1996 to re-enter European and world markets.
Mr Brown added:
"The Government has worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months to get to this position. I am taking nothing for granted and will continue to explain Britain's case based on our guiding principles of protecting public health and following the science. We have done everything asked of us and more besides, and our efforts to make British beef amongst the safest in the world are now being recognised."
The UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden voted in favour; Luxembourg and the Netherlands abstained; Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Spain voted against.