EU doles out fines

The European Commission has announced heavy fines against the Polish government (E7.7m) and the Czech Republic (E6.2m) for the hoarding of excess meat stocks

ahead of their countries joining the European Union (EU) in 2004.

Accession deals for new member states always insist that new member countries do not import or produce excess supplies of meat or other food products ahead of joining the EU.

This prevents their companies flooding European markets once tariff and other trade barriers are removed. The stockpiled meat ranged from beef, veal and pigmeat to sheep, goatmeat and poultry.

"It is our legal duty to make sure these rules are enforced, because they prevent companies across the Union being harmed by excessive stockpiling," said EU agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, who also announced a lighter E980,000 fine for Slovakia over excess meat stocks.

The fines calculation follows statistical investigations of standard demand and stock levels within new member countries, allowing for a reasonable level of carry-over stock for following years.

The three countries will have four years to pay the charges, with the first instalment due in two months' time and subsequent payments due in May 2008, May 2009 and May 2010.

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