EU Threatens Legal Action Against France's Lingering Beef Ban

European Union officials are expected to meet with their French counterparts in the next few days in an attempt to resolve quickly the mounting tensions caused by the French government's recent decision to keep its ban on UK beef imports, in contravention of EU rules. "We will ask the French authorities to explain [their decision] and see how the situation can be resolved by direct talks," notes an EU Commission spokeswoman. She says the meetings are expected to take place within the next few days, perhaps by Oct. 6. The EU announced Oct. 1 that it was prepared to take legal action against France if it maintained the ban. According to EU Commissioner for Consumer and Health Protection David Byrne, the French Food Safety Agency has not backed its decision with new scientific evidence. Since Aug. 1 the UK has been able to export meat from animals aged between 6 months and 30 months born after Aug. 1, 1996, in herds that never have been infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as "made cow disease." An outbreak of the disease in UK-raised cattle in 1996 led to a European Commission ban on British beef exports. The ban was lifted this summer.

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