You are on page 1of 2

17. 3.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 82/111

The Commission also revealed that at the centre of this trade was probably Belgium, where there are said to be
enterprises that have been specializing in the fraudulent import and export of British beef for some time.

Can the Commission, at the end of its investigation, add to this information, which is very disturbing, and does it
not suspect the existence of other illegal trade that has not yet been identified? Does it not feel, moreover, that
this situation is mainly due to the inadequacy, shortcomings and ineffectiveness of the customs and sanitary
checks in certain Member States, and especially the United Kingdom, that were introduced after the decision to
impose an embargo was taken?

Is the Commission able to evaluate the checks made in the United Kingdom and in the Member States
incriminated in the recent events and to judge whether they comply with the commitments entered into as part of
the fight against BSE?

Is the Commission not convinced of the need for sanctions against the persons responsible who have been
identified and for the checks on the origin of beef to be tightened up as a matter of urgency so as to prevent
fraudulent trade on such a scale and to ensure, as far as possible, the protection of the consumer’s health and
confidence in the beef production chain, since it is once again the European Union’s breeders as a whole who are
in danger of being heavily penalized by the consequences of an unacceptable situation?

(98/C 82/184) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2643/97

by Inger Schörling (V) to the Commission
(25 July 1997)

Subject: Contravention of meat export ban

The Commission has reported that the UK has contravened the beef export ban introduced to prevent the spread
of BSE (mad cow disease). More than 1000 tonnes of beef are believed to have been sold illegally to a number of

Consumer confidence in the EU’s meat industry is, quite rightly, already very low, and reports of large-scale
illegal exports are driving it even lower.

Are there no effective export controls? How can such a large quantity of meat escape official controls?

What steps has the Commission taken, or will it take, both to take legal action in respect of such a serious breach
of the export ban and to ensure that it does not happen again?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2579/97, P-2642/97 and P-2643/97
given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission
(2 October 1997)

The matter to which the Honourable Member refers relates to a recently uncovered fraud, involving the
redescription and recertification of frozen beef of British origin as coming from other Member States.

Investigations by the Commission, working very closely with the relevant Member State authorities, into the
extent and implications of this fraud are currently in hand and have been reported to the Parliament on an interim
basis. However, care is needed at this stage not to jeopardize the success of these investigations through the
premature release of information on their findings.

Primary responsibility for controlling the health marking, certification and movement of such beef rests with the
Member States concerned. Although frauds are extremely difficult to prevent completely, it has become clear
from the Commission's investigations that there is a need to improve health controls at a national level so as to
increase the level of detection and prevention of such illegal activity. In response to the shortfalls already
identified by the Commission's inquiries, a formal letter requesting information has already been sent to the
United Kingdom.

Investigations into the possible existence of other fraudulent meat movements are continuing, with a view to
ensuring that a full picture is obtained and that all possible avenues are explored.
C 82/112 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 17. 3. 98

Following the results of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) parliamentary inquiry, the Commission
transferred responsibility for veterinary control from the Directorate general for agriculture (DG VI) to the
Directorate general for consumer policy and consumer health protection (DG XXIV).

The Commission is fully aware of the importance of prompt and vigorous action in response to this situation to
ensure that a high level of protection for animal and public health is ensured and that consumer confidence is
maintained. To this end, all Member States are being kept informed of progress in the investigation, so that a
coordinated approach can be followed.

The Commission will ensure that the Parliament continues to be informed of developments.

(98/C 82/185) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2581/97

by Giuseppe Rauti (NI) to the Commission
(24 July 1997)

Subject: Forcible importation into Europe of US meat containing hormones

Can the Commission say what the current situation is as regards the United States’ insistent and threatening
requests to import into Europe meat produced from cattle which have been treated with hormones?

Not least because of the opinion of its Scientific Committees the European Union has so far been opposed to
these requests, but now the World Trade Organization (WTO) has declared European opposition to be ‘contrary
to the rules of international free trade’.

Can the Commission say whether and, if so, how the European Union will continue to uphold its belief that the
use of hormones in stock breeding, as practised in the United States, is seriously harmful to human health?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(18 September 1997)

On 30 June 1997, the World trade organisation (WTO) panel notified the parties of its final reports on hormones
meat. Effectively, the panel reports find violation of three provisions of the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)
Agreement by the Community directives prohibiting the use of hormones for animal growth promotion. A
decision has been taken to appeal from the panel’s reports. Until there is a definitive ruling on this matter under
the WTO dispute settlement process (probably not before November 1997), it is not possible to indicate what
course of action might be open to the Community. If the panel’s conclusions are upheld by the appellate body of
the WTO, the Community will still have a ‘reasonable period’ to decide its options.

The Commission will continue to invoke the precautionary principle in support of its claims and to defend the
position that the Community’s right to decide what level of sanitary protection it deems appropriate for its
citizens be fully recognised by the SPS Agreement.

(98/C 82/186) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2584/97

by Hilde Hawlicek (PSE) to the Commission
(29 July 1997)

Subject: Extension of education programmes to countries in Central and Eastern Europe

As from 1998 it is intended that the Socrates and Leonardo programmes should be extended to the countries of
Central and Eastern Europe.

What measures is the Commission taking to ensure that pupils and students from EU Member States taking part
in programmes in Central and Eastern European countries have a command of those countries’ languages?