Twice shy?

The EU tries hard to avoid a second trade clash with the US over beef exports

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

to avoid a second bruising of its trade relations with the us, the European Union ( eu ) is considering three options after the World Trade Organisation ( wto ) ruled against its recent ban on hormonally-treated us beef products. The first time the eu had trade clashes with its most important transatlantic neighbour over bananas seems to have been embarrassing enough.

The eu recently adopted a paper setting out three possible approaches that will now be debated by its legislative arms -- the European Parliament and eu ministers. Ministers must give a mandate allowing the eu to act on their behalf, an eu official told the media.

The move comes only a few months before the May 13 deadline for complying with the wto ruling and indicates the anxiety in Brussels that the beef hormones dispute must not be allowed to escalate into a trade war that could suppress eu 's banana fiasco.

A year back, the wto had ruled that eu 's ban on hormonally-treated beef imports violated international trade rules, since it was not backed by adequate scientific evidence. The eu, however, maintains that some research suggests that the hormones could eventually prove carcinogenic.

The 15-nation eu asked for two years to comply with the ruling, giving its research groups time to complete their work. However, the wto has given it only 15 months.

The Commission admitted recently that its research would not be completed by May 1999, meaning that eu must go in for interim measures to appease Washington until the studies are finished. The three options it is now considering include maintaining the ban, but compensate the us through increased access to eu agricultural markets, lifting the ban and introducing labelling on us beef products, and changing the ban's nature from a "permanent" one to a "provisional" one, where it will come into effect as research reveals facts.

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