NFU president Ben Gill has slammed the promotion of French markets in Britain as "indefensible" while the country maintains its illegal ban on British beef. And Gill has also questioned the right of the French government to hold the presidency of the EU for six months from July 1. Stepping up the NFU's Europe wide lobbying campaign to persuade the French to lift their beef blockade, Gill said: "We cannot see how the Paris administration can properly assume the EU presidency, given its continued illegal ban on our beef. This is not like other violations this is violation with intent. They think they are above the law." Gill has also written to the Local Government Association's Rural Commission following complaints from UK producers about local councils encouraging French markets in their area. Gill added: "Normally I would have no desire to interfere, but I have to say that for many people in rural communities this kind of promotion is highly insensitive." Although stopping short of urging a full scale boycott of French markets, Gill went on: "At a time when the French authorities are maintaining their ban on British beef illegally, and without scientific justification, it is indefensible for local governments to be encouraging the purchase of French goods." While NFU county chairmen will also be making direct representations when the markets take place in their area, there were rumours this week that local farmers planned to picket French markets in the south. Meanwhile the NFU is stepping up its "psychological pressure" to get the beef ban lifted. In the coming weeks Gill and other top officials will meet the French ambassador in London, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler and EU competition commissioner David Byrne. - See Opinion, page 14. {{NEWS }}