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Brussels, 17 July 2002

Commission decides to refer France to Court for a second time for non-compliance with Court judgment on British beef

Under the EU-Treaty (Article 228(1)) a Member State is obliged to implement a judgment of the European Court of Justice. On 13 December 2001, the Court declared France's refusal to lift its ban on British beef and bovine products complying with the DBES as unlawful (C-1/00). Thus, France was obliged to implement the relevant EU rules and to allow the resumption of imports of correctly marked or labelled British DBES beef and products to France. Such implementation measures have still not been communicated to the European Commission by France. The Commission has therefore decided today to refer France to the European Court of Justice for a second time, in order to enforce the judgement given by the Court. The Commission also decided to request the Court to impose a penalty payment of € 158 250 per day on France, should the case not be settled before the judgment of the Court. The penalty would apply to each day of non-compliance with the second judgment of the Court. The Court is not bound to accept the amount proposed by the Commission. The Commission has also decided to request the Court to treat this case by accelerated procedure - a decision the President of the Court has to take.

Note to editors:

Since 1 August 1999 British beef can be exported under the so-called DBES system (date-based export scheme) which sets strict conditions (for example only deboned meat of bovines between 6-30 months of age complying with very detailed requirements and originating in dedicated meat plants).

Article 228 of the EU Treaty established the legal procedure to follow if a Member State does not comply with a Court of Justice judgment. After a letter of formal notice, a reasoned opinion is addressed to the Member State concerned specifying the points in respect of which the failure to comply with the judgment continues and requesting compliance within a specified time limit. If non-compliance continues, the Commission may again bring the case before the Court and in so doing it is required to specify the amount of the financial penalty which it considers should be imposed on the Member State in default . The Court is free to decide on whether to impose such a penalty payment and is not bound by any amount suggested by the Commission.

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