If the French government persists in banning imports of British beef, it could soon be facing a daily fine of €630,000 (US$557,000), according to a EU juridical source.

The source told Agence France Presse yesterday [Thursday] that the fine would be the maximum permitted, and would only be imposed if France continues to ignore the warnings issued by the European Commission to adhere to the 13 December 2001 ruling by the European Court of Justice to lift the ban.

France insists that the ban must remain in place to protect its domestic herd from the threat of BSE, however the EU's Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) ruled in 1999 that British beef is BSE-free.

France is the onlt state amongst the 15 EU members to have retained the ban.