At the time of the mad cow disease investigation, Belgium bore too large a slice of the costs for tests on cattle in respect of the disease. This is the verdict of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Today (Thursday), the court held that the the country should recover 6.6 million euros from affected farmers and abattoirs.
In 2001, the European Union implemented a system of compulsory testing for beef cattle, in the fight against the spread of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
In Belgium, these tests were partly government-financed. Judges in Luxembourg said that Belgium had been over-generous at the time. It should not have paid more than 40 euros per test by way indemnity.
The excess is considered to be illegal state aid. In total, 6.6 million euros were paid during the period 2001 to 2004.
Belgium had already lost its appeal last year at first instance. Today the ECJ confirmed the court’s decision.