Meanwhile, the Commission this week formally suspended all exports of Portuguese beef and cattle, after EU veterinary chiefs endorsed its proposals for a ban. The vets’ failure to endorse a lifting of the embargo means it will be up to EU farm ministers to take a final decision when they meet on 23 November.They are expected to follow the voting pattern set by the vets. With just 5 countries voting against (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Austria) and two abstaining (Luxembourg and the Netherlands), this would be enough for the proposed relaxation of the ban to go through at ministerial level.Under the proposal, beef from animals born after August 1996, when feeding practices linked to the spread of BSE were outlawed in the UK, would be eligible for export. But officials stress that even if ministers agree to lift the ban, British slaughterhouses will have to be inspected once more before exports can resume. The concensus is that it will be early next year before UK beef arrives on supermarket shelves in mainland Europe.