Bulgaria and Romania, the former communist economies joining the European Union next month, were given a year to improve the quality of their foods, stopping Russian products from reaching the rest of the EU through them.
The European Commission, the 25-nation bloc's executive body, said today that Bulgaria can't export milk and meat products for a year, or until its processors have brought their factories up to the standards of the single market. The commission also said food exporters in the two nations can't ship goods made with ingredients from Russia that don't meet EU quality standards. Poland, an EU member since 2004, has stalled negotiations between the bloc and Russia over a trade agreement because the Russian government has banned imports of Polish meat and some vegetables.
Russia has threatened to extend its restrictions to the entire EU. „The commission's priority is to ensure that after enlargement the food safety and health standards on which EU consumers rely are maintained,” Philip Tod, a spokesman for the commission, told reporters in Brussels. The announcement is „not based on the Russia threat” and the commission is still meeting with Russian officials to resolve the problem, he said. (Bloomberg)