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A Stranger in EuropeBritain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair$
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Stephen Wall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199284559

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284559.001.0001

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Success Turned Sour: From Maastricht to Mad Cow Disease

Success Turned Sour: From Maastricht to Mad Cow Disease

Chapter:
(p.135) 7 Success Turned Sour: From Maastricht to Mad Cow Disease
Source:
A Stranger in Europe
Author(s):

Stephen Wall

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284559.003.0007

The deal agreed in Maastricht was a great success for Britain and a personal success for Prime Minister John Major. However, this success was clouded by the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, crisis in 1996. It was one of the unhappiest chapters in Britain's relationship with her partners. It led to a feeling among Britain's partners, subsequently reinforced by the government's approach to the Amsterdam Treaty, that perhaps even its commitment to European Union membership was in doubt. The BSE crisis had been slow to build up but sudden to break. The risk to cattle from feed made up of mashed-up sheep parts had been recognised and measures to ban the use of such feed put in place. But the enforcement of the ban had been very patchy and the extent of the disease among the British herd came to light belatedly and with devastating speed. The measures that the government took to tackle the crisis were an uneasy compromise between the scientifically necessary and the politically deliverable.

Keywords:   Britain, John Major, mad cow disease, European Union, international relations, foreign policy

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