September 23, 2008


France seeks to tighten EU food import controls after China milk contamination case


France is urging the EU to tighten its checks on food imports after the discovery of toxic milk in China.


French agriculture minister Michel Barnier told AFP Monday ( September 22, 2008) that toxic milk in China and tainted oil from the Ukraine both supports his advocacy for tighter EU food import laws. 


Barnier, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, was speaking on the sidelines of an EU farm ministers meeting.


He said that the aim was to "protect consumers, harmonize control methods and rules and also make sure that products entering Europe respect the same norms that we put on our producers."


France hopes that the measures will win backing by the EU's 26 other members by the end of its presidency of the bloc at the end of the year.


About 15 countries support tighter controls, but some are concerned of being accused of protectionism by the WTO.


The memorandum, which Paris first put forward in June, aims to fill holes in existing import controls.


What is stopping the bloc from imposing controls now is mainly the difference in application of controls between member states" and the absence of "real risk analysis" for the most problematic products and a harmonization of rules, he added.

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