EU sends official to convince Russia to lift vegetable ban
The European Union will send a top official to Russia to convince Moscow to make good on a pledge to lift a ban on EU vegetables over an E. coli outbreak, the European Commission said Monday.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has written a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "regretting" that Moscow has kept the ban in place despite a political agreement reached at an EU-Russia summit 10 days ago, the EU's executive arm said.
Barroso is dispatching a delegation led by EU health commissioner John Dalli "in the next days" and hopes his envoy will be received by Russian authorities "in the shortest possible delay," said spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen.
She said the Russian ban "has no reason to be in place" because the "danger was eliminated completely."
The commission already voiced "profound dissatisfaction" last week over Russia failure to lift an embargo that was imposed on June 2 after an E. coli outbreak in Germany.
On June 10, German authorities identified locally grown vegetable sprouts as the source of the outbreak and lifted a warning against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
The bacteria killed 38 people in Germany as well as one in Sweden and sickened 3,300 in 16 countries.
The 27-nation EU exports 1.1 million tonnes of vegetables worth 600 million euros ($850 million) to Russia each year.
© 2011 AFP