Scotland wants continued EU-protection for its whisky and salmon

Scotland wants continued EU-protection for its whisky and salmon
Copyright Flickr/Paul Hudson
Copyright Flickr/Paul Hudson
By Alice Tidey
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Scottish authorities have called on the British government to secure mutual recognition of geographically protected produce with the EU even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


With the change of leadership in the United Kingdom making a no-deal exit from the European Union seemingly more likely, Scottish authorities are fearful local products will lose their protected status under the bloc's rule.

Some of the Scottish products granted a Geographical Indication (GI) by the EU include Orkney Scottish Island cheddar, wild and farmed salmon, lamb, beef, Shetland wool and whisky.

In a letter to the newly-installed Environment Minister Theresa Villiers, Scotland's Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing wrote on Wednesday that the devolved government finds the "approach being adopted by the UK Government deeply concerning".

The UK's new prime minister, Boris Johnson, has repeatedly said the country will leave the EU on October 31 "do or die".

"It is not enough to simply hope and believe that the EU will not take steps to remove existing UK GIs from their registers, especially if we are not to protect their GI products from Day 1 in the UK scheme," Ewing said.

"This stance is causing real uncertainty for producers and I implore you to do more to attempt to secure this mutual recognition in negotiations taking place," he added.

'Ready to launch our own GI schemes'

GIs certify that a product has been made in a specific place of origin according to certain quality requirements. 

The most famous examples include Parma ham, Feta cheese and Champagne.

This token of quality — which can take up to four years to acquire — allows producers to market their product as premium and protect them from other manufacturers using the name but not complying with the necessary requirements.

The Withdrawal Agreement struck between former British Prime Minister Theresa May and the leaders of the 27 other member states planned for GIs to be legally protected during a transition period and until a new agreement could be worked out. That implied that the UK would continue to recognise European GIs and that the bloc would, in turn, recognise UK GIs.

If the UK was to exit without a deal, the EU and the UK would therefore no longer be obligated to recognise the GIs in each other's territory.

In a white paper released earlier this year, the UK said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it would set up its own GI schemes that would "mirror the EU schemes and fulfil the UK's World Trade Organisation obligations."

A spokeswoman for the department of environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) reiterated that the UK is "ready to launch its own GI schemes at the point at which EU rules cease to apply in the UK."

"Our amazing food sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling ever more not just here but around the world once we leave the EU on 31st October," she added.

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