The European Commission established, in November 1997, a work programme on BSE (mad cow disease), and undertook to produce biannual follow-up reports on its implementation. The first of these reports has recently been adopted, highlighting the efforts undertaken between October 1997 and May 1998 to combat BSE. Scientific aspects outlined in the report include the restructuring of all the scientific committees, and a summary of the work of the Scientific Steering Committee, the main advisory body to the Commission in the field of BSE. The report also documents progress made towards the adoption of a Community network for the surveillance and control of communicable diseases and on the action programme for rare diseases. The report documents action taken by the Commission with regard to the reporting system for control missions, and highlights the need to combat fraud in this area through the improvement of cooperation between national veterinary and customs services. Results of Commission inspections are included, highlighting problems with removing specified risk material from the food and feed chain which have not yet been solved. The current state of the implementation of EU legislation, including infringement procedures, is also described. In addition, the position on the UK beef ban and the Northern Irish export certified herd scheme are also dealt with.