Monitor: Germany and the beef ban
German comment on the decision of their government to delay lifting the ban on British beef
Saturday 07 August 1999
THE GERMAN regional health ministers are right: The EU export ban on British beef was lifted too early. Federal Health Minister Andrea Fischer is banking on a delay, and wants to talk to the new European Commission and keep British beef from the German market for the time being. The new Commission must win back confidence and consumers.
WITH A chorus of outrage, Britain reacted to the German decision to keep British beef away from the German market, even though the embargo against the export of British beef was just recently lifted. Commentators reject the decision. They believe that economic interests were the real reason behind the opposition to the lifting of the ban. Agricultural bodies were also outraged. This action is not good for the image of Europe in the eyes of the British public.
WHAT IS happening here is nothing more than political show: Germany's non-existent muscles are being flexed for the public, so that it can be said later that Germany wanted the best, but it was the others' fault. Besides, does anyone really believe that a single pound of British beef could be sold in Germany? Which importer would take the risk?
AFTER THE BSE cases, British beef has no chance here today. Threats will not change anything. The British will have to think of some way of attracting German customers: this will be a tough task.
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