Russia is ending a blanket ban on vegetable imports from the European Union put in place over fears of E. coli infection, starting with the Netherlands and Belgium, the nation's top consumer rights watchdog said today. Shipments were allowed to resume today following a 26-day ban intended to prevent an E. coli outbreak centered on Germany from spreading east, the agency said. Germany reported one more death in the outbreak, taking the total to at least 47, but infections have declined significantly over recent weeks.
The EU has called Russia's ban disproportionate and the dispute has clouded Russia's talks on accession to the World Trade Organization. Russia is the last major economy that isn't a member of the WTO, the international free-trade body, and gaining membership is crucial to a broader partnership agreement the European Union wants to establish with Russia. The Russian consumer protection agency didn't say when imports of vegetables from other EU nations will resume, but added that the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, Spain, and Poland are on the waiting list.