Dutch trucks blocked at Romanian in 'bacteria scare'
A dozen Dutch trucks carrying flowers have been stopped at the Romanian border with authorities saying they feared the presence of a dangerous bacteria, amid a diplomatic row between the two countries.
"During an inspection of all imports of flowers, bulbs and seeds from EU countries, 15 trucks have been identified starting Friday evening," the Romanian tax administration (ANAF) said in a press release.
Ten of the 15 trucks were blocked at the border pending test results, two were confiscated and three others were sent back to the Netherlands, it added.
ANAF spokeswoman Sabina Zeres told AFP that most of the trucks came from the Netherlands, which is the main supplier of flowers to the Romanian market.
She added that samples had been taken from flowers and seeds after the phytosanitary agency said that they might contain a dangerous bacteria.
But both the agriculture ministry and the customs department told AFP they had no clue whatsoever about the nature of this bacteria or the circumstances that triggered the alert.
The Dutch embassy too said it was seeking more information from the Romanian authorities "on why these measures were taken."
"Dutch companies exporting to Romania have expressed their concerns directly to the embassy and to the relevant authorities" in The Hague, it said.
"The Netherlands is of the opinion that all measures implemented by the Romanian authorities should be in accordance with the EU legal framework," the embassy stressed.
Local media linked the measures to the Dutch government's opposition to the bid by Romania and Bulgaria to enter Europe's visa-free Schengen zone.
"The Schengen Bacteria", ran the front-page headline of Adevarul daily.
"The Netherlands' no to Romania's entry to Schengen has triggered reprisals at the borders," the daily said, describing what it called the "war of the flowers."
© 2011 AFP