The European Union, friend of free trade:

Swiss pork-and-beef cervelat sausages have traditionally used Brazilian cow-intestine skins, but the European Union has banned imports of the skins, fearing they may contain traces of mad cow disease, or BSE.

Picnickers flock to parks at weekends to barbecue the large, bland sausages which look like giant hot dogs. But skin stocks will run out by the end of the year, forcing butchers to use alternatives which purists say split easily and lack flavour....

The [economics] minister said there would be enough sausages for spectators at the European soccer championship the Swiss and Austrians are hosting later this year, and promised to push for a review of the EU ban.

If that fails, Swiss fans may just have to put up with inferior skins, even if they do not curl the sausage when cooked, she said. "I believe Swiss consumers will have the courage to accept a slightly straighter cervelat."

Oh, well, at least there's unfettered trade in sausages within Europe. Hold on -- what's that?

The generally good relations between Czechs and Slovaks cooled dramatically last year when Slovakia applied to the EU for trademark protection for its 'spekácky' sausage. This speciality has also been produced from time immemorial by Czech manufacturers. A trademark for the Slovak sausage would mean that the Czechs would have to produce their sausage according to the Slovak recipe. The prospect triggered outraged protest in the Czech Republic. The Czech daily reports that the agricultural ministers of the two states have now reached an agreement at a trade fair in Brno. "Czechs and Slovaks are now working together again on the 'spekácky' project. Both countries will jointly apply to the EU for the registration of this regional speciality. ... If the EU grants protection, there will be a 'sausage declaration' that stipulates the recipes to be used, but allows each country to use its own."

They've always provoked passion, those sausages: