- The ban on imports of British beef will be kept in place
by Germany until at least the autumn, the country's health minister has
- The move comes despite the recent lifting of the European
Union bar on UK beef sales. But it got an angry response from politicians
and farmers, who had hoped British beef would again be consumed on the
- The ban was imposed by the European Union just over three
years ago after scientists first discovered a link between BSE in cattle
and the human brain disease CJD.
- Germany opposed removing the ban and is holding urgent
talks with the European Commission, said Andrea Fischer, a member of the
- The UK Ministry of Agriculture said it always knew it
would be difficult to persuade people abroad to buy British beef.
- It said it welcomed the EC talks, but insisted Germany
had an obligation to adopt the position accepted by the majority of the
- "We welcome their willingness to talk about it,"
a spokesperson said. "We have convinced the commission that British
beef is safe and we are sure that the stringent conditions applied mean
it is among the safest in the world."
- Terry Lee, head of export marketing at the Meat and Livestock
Commission, said he believed politicians and consumers in Germany would
gradually begin to accept British beef again.
- He said that what worried him was that "the German
concerns are very vague, and not specific".
- "We hope it can be overcome," he said. We've
always known it's going to be very difficult.
- "We would be surprised if the commission asked us
to do any more. We suspect that when other countries start buying British
beef, so will the Germans."
- Exports 'initially limited'
- A spokeswoman for the National Farmers Union (NFU) said
it would be a great shame if certain member states tried to stop their
consumers "enjoying a product which is now among the safest in the
- She said UK farmers had worked hard to "meet all
the criteria under the date-based export scheme, to assure the EU authorities
and consumers that British beef is safe".
- "This hard work has been fully recognised by the
European Commission," she said.
- "The NFU has always recognised that the restoration
of lost beef markets was not going to happen overnight and that the number
of exports was initially going to be limited."
- 'Draconian' French conditions
- But Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe said: "I
have to admit it makes me angry."
- The opposition politician said all countries had to follow
the ruling reaced by the commission and Germany could not make its own
- French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany also said on
Tuesday that British beef would not be imminently returning to supermarket
- "I have to reassure French consumers that the doors
are not immediately wide open to British beef," he said on French
- "In fact, they are not still open in France, contrary
to what some papers have me say, because to make this European decision
legal in France, a decree is needed from the agriculture ministry which
will be not be ready before the end of August.
- "So British beef cannot yet enter France. The conditions
for the lifting of the embargo are in fact extremely draconian," he