The European Union on Monday said it hoped to see a resumption of beef exports to the United States after a 15-year ban due to concerns over madcow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). A spokesman for the European Commission said a US government proposal last week to lift BSE-related restrictions on EU beef imports was \"a significant step\". \"The Commission looks forward to the resumption of EU export of beef and bovine products that have been unjustifiably banned by the USA since 1997,\" a spokesman for the EU executive said. The comment followed last week\'s decision by a US agriculture department agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), to issue a proposal to lift the restrictions. The proposal is currently open for 60 days. \"The Commission will continue to follow up closely this issue of high political and technical concern which has been affecting negatively the transatlantic relationship for such a long time,\" the spokesman added. \"The Commission will only consider this issue as resolved on the day when EU beef and derived products will effectively be exported to the USA.\" In another transatlantic dispute over beef, the European Parliament will Friday discuss whether to increase import quotas on high-quality North American beef produced from animals not treated with hormones. US hormone beef has been banned in Europe since 1988.