The Netherlands has been cleared to export beef to the US market, making it the third EU country after Ireland and Lithuania to gain access.

The US market closed to EU beef imports after the BSE outbreak in the 1990s.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said that he welcomed the move as a sign of recognition for the EU’s comprehensive and effective measures to eradicate BSE in Europe.

“I hope the US will now act expeditiously to extend the approval to all imports from the EU and I call on the remaining EU partners who still maintain restrictive measures to fully adopt recognised international standards.

The EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström said that in times when it is working hard to build a new partnership for trade and investment, keeping old unnecessary obstacles makes no sense.

“I am glad we are going in the right direction in this respect and hope that the Dutch beef producers will be able to benefit from the new market opportunities very soon.”

Speaking after the announcement, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan said that the opening the US market to Dutch beef provides a further export outlet for the EU’s high quality EU product.

Unlocking technical barriers to exports is part of our diplomatic offensive to drive exports and find new markets for EU producers.

The Commission has said that the opening of the US market to Dutch beef sends a positive signal to producers in other parts of the EU that are still waiting for the end of the disproportionately strict and lasting US trade restrictions.

The US market has been closed to EU beef since January 1998, when the US introduced import restrictions on beef, as well as sheep, goats and their products, on the basis of BSE concerns.

These measures went beyond the recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) according to which deboned beef, for instance, is safe and can be freely traded from all countries regardless of its BSE status.

In addition, the Commission said that according to the OIE evaluation of BSE risk in the EU Member States – based on standards established in 2005 -, almost all of them presented not more, and sometimes less risk than most countries in the world. In other words, EU beef is safe.