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Cablegate: Gof to Be Condemned by European Court of Justice

VZCZCXRO5888
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #7802 3481641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141641Z DEC 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3800
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1466
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0272
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2558
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS PARIS 007802

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA AND EB(SPIRNAK);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/OS/JOHANNS/TERPSTRA;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST;
OCRA/CURTIS
STA/SIMMONS/JONES/HENNEY
FAA/YOUNG;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD EU FR
SUBJECT: GOF TO BE CONDEMNED BY EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE

REF: (A) PARIS 506, (B) PARIS 2439

1. On December 12, the EU Commission proposed that the European
Court of Justice (ECJ) fine the GOF a lump sum of 38 million euros
and a daily penalty of 366,744 euros for not transposing EU
Directive 2001/18 (the EU legal framework on the deliberate release
of biotech products into the environment) into national law on time.


History of the French Biotech Bill
----------------------------------

2. Since adoption of EU Directive 2001/18, the GOF has grappled
with how and when to transpose it into French law. The GOF opted for
a wide biotech bill, which would not only transpose the Directive,
but also set a framework for biotech/non-biotech coexistence rules
in France. This ambitious project was first announced by President
Chirac in October 2004, when a Parliamentary working group on
biotech was created. In April 2005, this group released its final
report including recommendations on the bill. On February 2006, the
French Minister of Research presented a bill to the Senate (REF A),
which adopted a text in March (REF B).

3. Since its vote by the French Senate in March, a biotech bill
transposing the EU Directive has languished in the National Assembly
for political reasons. The GOF failed to force this issue to a vote
in view of upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections of
Spring 2007.

Reaction of the GOF to the EC Decision
--------------------------------------

4. However, in view of the December 12 announcement by the EU
Commission, the GOF seems to be seriously reconsidering and may
schedule a vote on the biotech bill by the National Assembly before
its election recess, i.e., February 22, 2007.

5. The Associated Press and Reuters, as well as the French weekly
newspaper "Le Nouvel Observateur" reported that the GOF spokesman
said yesterday that "the biotech bill will be adopted by the end of
the current legislature," as "it must and will be." According to
the press, the GOF spokesman stated that the review of the bill by
the National Assembly "will not take more than two or three days,"
especially since some decrees have already been drafted by the
Ministries involved.

6. Comment: Given the highly-charged political atmosphere, the GOF
may have intentionally waited for the Commission to exert pressure
for transposing the EU Directive. While both supporters and
detractors of ag biotech call for a clear legal framework as set out
in the form of this bill, in view of the upcoming elections, a
review and vote on the bill by the National Assembly is expected to
be very tense. End comment.


Stapleton

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