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Useless Brussels is behind real cow row.

Byline: George Tyndale

THE EU is now the last hope for British beef. Which is odd.

Because had it not been for the EU British beef would not need saving.

It was Brussels that insisted on the massively expensive, hugely complex procedures on cattle traceability that, it declared, would give our beef the all-clear in Europe.

And it was the EU's total lack of cohesion and credibility that meant two key nations - the Germans as well as the French - could simply choose to ignore its ruling as they have on so many other issues.

Just imagine, for one blissful moment, that the EU had not existed when our farmers landed us in the mad cow mire. Of course we would have introduced a scheme to protect our own families and that would have cost money. But it would have been as good if not better, than the one that was forced upon us.

And by now, after a few years of quiet discussion and persuasion, other countries would almost certainly have been happily eating our meat.

Instead the world has been exposed to almost daily European screaming matches reminding everybody that millions of people still think our beef is risky.

No wonder countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand are still refusing to allow the stuff across the threshold. Would they not have been more likely to accept a British undertaking on safety than a ruling from a load of bent Eurocrats who are constantly decried and ignored even by the people paying their wages?

And who are now launching into an interminable legal process to stretch out this costly anti-marketing campaign for months, possibly years, into the future.

The French have reason enough to be paranoid about health. They have had two national scandals over public health, one involving asbestos and one blood contamination. Its independent food safety agency, Afssa, was set up specifically because the nation is paranoid about such matters.

It is easy to understand why the French government could not simply ignore Afssa's rulings.

What's impossible to understand is how the EU could have specified and approved a set of food safety rules in one member state that it should have known was unacceptable in another.

And what this all demonstrates is not the bloody-mindedness of the French, but the inefficiency and utter uselessness of the monstrously inept, institutionally corrupt machine in Brussels. It spells out the blindingly obvious truth that the EU does not and cannot work.

What it can do is lead us into a farcical situation like the one in which we are to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on officials and lawyers in an attempt to force people into eating food they genuinely believe may harm their health.

Now this is the real beef madness.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 19, 1999
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