From Welsh lamb to Scottish whiskey, not to mention ‘stilton cheese’, British geographical indications (PGI / GIs) should not be raised much in view of Brexit, although vigilance is in order.
L ‘Geographical indication Protected (PGI / GI) products were developed to protect the name so as to promote its unique characteristics associated with their origins, geography, and traditional knowledge.
In short, it is thanks to PGI that dried meat produced in the vicinity of Parma can be officially called “Prosciutto di Parma”.
This is why we can only make champagne with grapes from the French French region.
European citizens can find these products on supermarket shelves and they come with special labels: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (IGP / GI).
The names of these foods also appear in the European Intellectual Property Rights system, which legally protects them against duplication or misuse.
A recent commissioned study, which collected economic data for each of the 3,207 products protected by PGI / GI in the European Union, revealed that these designations represent a sales value of EUR 74.76 billion.
Some 65 UK foods have been registered as GIS, including Welsh lamb, ‘Stilton cheese’, Scotch whiskey, ‘Jersey Royal potatoes’ and ‘traditionally cultivated Gloucestershire Old Spotted Pork’.
What does the situation look like with Brexit? Analysis.
On December 31, 2020, all European geographical signs already registered in the European Union are protected in the UK under Article 54 (2) of the withdrawal agreement.
« All product names that were protected under EU rule before the end of the transition period will be protected throughout the UK A source in the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told Uractive.
UK producers have access to the EU GI system and can apply for protection like any other manufacturer in third countries.
However, new GIs entered into the EU Register after 1 January 2021 are protected only on the territory of the European Union.
To obtain protection in the UK as a geographical indication, the respective EU producers must apply for registration of the respective name with the UK authorities under the UK GI regime.
« The only other side is that EU GI applicants for UK products must first register their products for UK GI in order to gain access to the EU GI system. Said Iona Silverman, intellectual property specialist at Freeth’s.
According to him, if the rules remain unchanged, the changes will not be on a large scale, but only small procedural changes.
« The New UK GI Regime allows us to identify and preserve traditional products and cuisines throughout the UK », DEFRA representative added.
What about Northern Ireland?
The situation is slightly different in Northern Ireland, where the European Union’s geographical indication laws apply because of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
This means that after the end of the transition period, the protection of registered EU geographic signs will also extend to Northern Ireland. The same goes for the protection of geographical signs according to international agreements of the European Union.
This exception is explained by the fact that some GI products such as whiskey are produced in both Northern Ireland and Ireland.
« It is difficult to estimate other scenarios at this point, but if different rules start negotiating and there is discrepancy, it will cause a slight irregularity. Ms. Silverman said.
« Northern Ireland is part of the UK: If we run a wedge between the UK and EU GI regulations, we risk running the same wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. “
Contacted by Uractive, A European source familiar with the matter stated that ” The European Union is Not aware of any problems related to the implementation of the Northern Irish Protocol in terms of geographical indications »
However, GI as a customs control and trade facilitation is still a serious point in negotiations.
« GI is an important subject in trade negotiations. In this regard, some disagreement has been revealed on the exact interpretation of the withdrawal agreement. Ms. Silverman commented.
« This is not a major obstacle, but a question on the table. I understand that the UK wants to negotiate more flexible rules. It is clear that both the UK government and the European Union will seek to maximize their respective benefits », He concludes.
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