Germans want extra safety tests on UK beef ban on beef may last all year
Thursday 05 August 1999
Although Germany imported very little beef from Britain before the ban was imposed three years ago, a further delay would deal a severe blow to UK farmers because German stalling tactics are likely to be copied by other European countries. France's Farm minister, Jean Glavany, has already announced that Paris needed a month to sort out the new regulations.
Germany is looking at a longer time-span. A decision to lift the EU-wide ban on beef has to be approved by parliament's upper chamber, the Bundesrat, where the 16 Lander are represented. This body is currently on the move from Bonn to Berlin, and is not due to meet until 24 September.
Even when it does, the odds are stacked against the British beef industry. At a meeting on Tuesday between regional health ministers and Andrea Fischer, the federal Health Minister, it became clear that the Lander were against allowing British beef into their shops.
"There was a feeling that this decision by the European Commission came too soon," an official of Saxony's Health Ministry said.
"The majority of the Lander were opposed to lifting the ban."
Ms Fischer herself cannot start negotiations with Brussels until the new Commission is in place in October.
She wants added guarantees of safety, and insists on the testing of all British beef bound for export. This is already technically feasible, but the British authorities have so far refused to sanction the tests.
Such measures, Ms Fischer told the BBC yesterday, would benefit Britain, too, because they would boost confidence in a product that most Europeans continue to mistrust. "I think it's easier for the German authorities to explain to the people in Germany that British beef is now safe again if we have taken this second chance," she explained.
Ms Fischer is not politically disposed towards helping British agriculture. She belongs to the Greens, the party which spearheaded the campaign against British beef at the outset of the BSE crisis. Long before the European Union took its drastic decision, Green health ministers in the regions had already imposed unilateral bans.
At that time, they were strongly condemned by the Christian Democrat- led federal government, but such ideological rifts have since healed. The Christian Democrats were the first to applaud Ms Fischer's defiant stance. "Protecting citizens' health has a higher priority than free trade," the Christian Democrat spokesman, Peter Hintze, declared.
Consumers, though, have shown little indication that they care. The BSE crisis is long forgotten in Germany, the memories obliterated by more recent health cares.
Nevertheless, the regions continue to insist that "suspect" British beef be labelled as British. The new EU regulations on such labelling does not come into effect, however, until next January. Until then, an impasse looms.
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...