Official: EU vegetables could enter Russia "by end of day"
A Russian ban on European Union vegetables could be partially lifted "by the end of the day" - if EU officials do exactly as Russia wants, a senior Russian official said Friday.
"We are looking at letting the vegetables in right now. So far, we haven't issued any permissions," Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief food safety inspector, told the Interfax news agency.
Russia on June 2 banned the import of EU-produced vegetables because of a deadly E coli outbreak in Germany, DPA reported.
Five EU nations, including the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark, have since informed Moscow they are prepared to implement a special safety certification process for vegetables exported to Russia, he said.
If promised laboratory tests and certifications are provided, then Russia could allow import of those countries' produce immediately, he said.
"At this point, all we have is their declarations they are ready to do it," Onishchenko said. "We do not yet have a list from the EU of the (approved) laboratories."
Talks between Brussels and Moscow brought an agreement for a resumption of imports once a procedure is implemented for certifying that each shipment was free of E coli bacteria.
But implementation of the certification procedure has been slow. Russian officials blame this on the unwillingness of Brussels to demonstrate that EU vegetables are indeed safe.
EU officials have accused Russia of using the E coli outbreak as a pretext to protect Russian producers from international competition.