EU voices deep 'dissatisfaction' on Russia food ban

15th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Union executive on Wednesday voiced "profound dissatisfaction" over Russia's failure to lift a blanket ban slapped on EU vegetables due to Germany's killer E. coli bacteria outbreak.

Moscow had agreed Friday to lift the embargo after two days of summit talks between EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Russian President Dmitry Mededev dominated by the bitter trade row.

Lamenting Russia's failure to move, the "Commission today expressed its profound dissatisfaction that the lifting of the import ban which was agreed between presidents Medvedev and Barroso at the summit has not yet been implemented", a spokeswoman said.

"Meanwhile, the source of the E. coli contamination has been clearly identified and eliminated from the market and this further emphasizes that there is no justification" for maintaining the ban, said Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen.

The European Union had reacted furiously to Moscow's ban on vegetables from the 27-nation union, calling it disproportionate and scientifically unjustified, and demanded it be immediately lifted.

Vegetable farmers across Europe are claiming immense damages in the fallout from the bacteria outbreak, which to date has killed at least 37 people, including its first child, who died Tuesday.

The EU on Tuesday approved 210 million euros ($303 million) in emergency aid for producers of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes and sweet peppers withdrawn from the market since May 26 as a result of the outbreak in northern Germany.

Spain, France, Poland and Slovakia voted against the package after demanding more help for farmers producing a wider range of fresh vegetables.

Spanish farmers say they have lost 225 million euros every week since the crisis erupted.

Farmers were futher hit when Russia imposed a blanket ban on vegetables,

Vegetable sprouts grown at a farm in the northern German village of Bienenbuettel have been identified as the cause of the outbreak of the virulent E. coli strain EHEC-0104, which so far has affected 14 countries.

© 2011 AFP

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