|Author (Person)||Neligan, Myles|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.4, No.38, 22.10.98, p8|
|Content Type||Journal | Series | Blog|
THE European Commission will next week unveil a fresh proposal for EU-wide rules restricting the use of livestock offals potentially contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The move marks a major tactical change in the Commission's two-year battle to ban suspect livestock offals, known as specified risk materials (SRMs).
In contrast to previous SRM initiatives, the plan to be unveiled next week will leave the door open for exemptions for EU countries which have never had a native case of BSE, and will allow waivers for pharmaceuticals containing the SRM-based beef by-product tallow. It will also set out measures to control the spread of scrapie in sheep.
"The aim is to consolidate all the existing pieces of legislation on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, while taking account of the objections that were raised the last time," said a Commission official.
The new proposal is intended to replace an earlier, far stricter SRM ban which should have come into force in March this year, but had to be postponed in the face of pressure from US pharmaceutical exporters and disaffected EU countries which claimed that the measure would unfairly penalise their beef industries.
Commission officials say that Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler will formally withdraw this earlier version of the SRM ban before its scheduled entry into force on 1 January next year.
All seven EU countries which have never had a native case of BSE (Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Finland, Denmark and Sweden) are expected to apply for a full exemption from the proposed ban.
Commission veterinary officials will assess each application for a waiver by examining national statistics on the incidence of BSE, scrapie and other transmissible encephalopathies, a process which is expected to take up to one year to complete.
In a further departure from established practice in EU farm policy, next week's proposal will have to be agreed jointly by national governments and the European Parliament before it becomes law.
Commission officials admit that this will add greatly to the length of the legislative process, but say that they decided to include MEPs in order to meet parliamentary demands for greater involvement in matters relating to consumer protection.
They say the Parliament's input will also put extra pressure on those EU governments reluctant to comply fully with the proposed restrictions on SRMs.
"National governments will have to explain, under the glare of democratically elected representatives, why they are holding up a vital consumer protection measure," said one official.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|