"I have been informed of reports that the French Food Safety Agency is of the view that it is premature to lift the ban on imports of UK beef. Following a first preliminary look at the report of the French agency, there seems to be no new information that has not already been examined by the Scientific Steering Committee. At this stage, the Commission's position is clear. The grounds for the decision to lift the ban were taken on sound scientific advice and on the basis of strict safeguards. These are designed to ensure that UK beef exports are safe and pose no threat to public health. The measures in place to ensure that this is the case are as follows:
These conditions were agreed by Member States in November 1998 and are based on the advice and approval of the Commission's Scientific Steering Committee. The ban was not, however, lifted until 1 August 1999 when the Commission was satisfied that all these conditions could be respected. The Commission continues to monitor the compliance of the UK with the conditions attached to the lifting of the ban.
If the French authorities take this report as a pretext not to lift the ban on UK exports of beef, the Commission would be obliged to consider to take the necessary infringement proceedings under the Treaty.