France Isolated as Germany Lifts Ban on British Beef

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GERMANY lifted its ban on British beef yesterday, leaving France isolated in its defiance.

The move, six months after the EU formally ruled that the prohibition should be lifted, means the meat could be back in German shops by next month.

British farmers said the move explodes the myth that safety is the French government's prime concern, exposing them as protectionists guarding the interests of their own beef producers.

Ben Gill of the National Farmers Union said: 'This was the right decision and leaves France out on a limb in Europe over its illegal ban.

'This decision serves to further expose France's refusal to lift the ban on British beef as no more than a stalling device to protect its own trade interests. There is no possible reason left for France to maintain its illegal ban.' The climbdown from Germany, which had stalled over lifting the ban claiming lingering health fears, followed the threat of heavy fines if it did not open its markets. There have also been promises to label British beef more clearly.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said he hoped the German move would persuade the French to follow suit - although there was little sign of anything other than defiance from Paris yesterday. Mr Brown said: 'I really do hope it has a knock- on Mail Foreign Service effect. …