BRUSSELS has been criticised by European Ombudsman P Nikiforos Diamandouros for not acting quickly enough to restrict Brazilian beef imports in 2008 in order to deal with risks from foot and mouth disease.
However, he rejected a call from a federation of British and Irish farm organisations that the Commission should have imposed a complete ban on Brazilian beef from a year earlier.
The Commission explained deficiencies had been identified in the Brazilian beef control systems in November 2007. As a consequence, it imposed stringent import restrictions, but considered an outright ban to be unnecessary.
The Ombudsman concluded the decision not to impose a ban was justified by the available evidence. However, he criticised the delay in restricting beef imports from unapproved farms in Brazil between February and March 2008.
Furthermore, the Ombudsman called on the Commission to continue its regular inspections outside the EU to ensure the necessary standards of animal and public health are in fact respected.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president Jackie Cahill said the unprecedented criticism of the Commission’s management of Brazilian beef imports fully vindicates the ICMSA’s decision to formally complain to the European Ombudsman.
He said the Ombudsman’s investigations showed blatant inadequacies in the Commission’s services where no mechanism existed to ensure Brazilian authorities kept in place the required controls.
“The Commission has clearly been found wanting. What is now required is a demand from the Farm Council for a full, up-to-date report from the Commissioner on what action he intends taking to fully comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendations,” he said.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said the Ombudsman’s report is a response to a complaint lodged by Fairness for Farmers in Europe (FFE), an umbrella group of farm organisations in Ireland and Britain including the ICSA.
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