The Scottish Government has demanded Defra Secretary Michael Gove ‘sets the record straight’ on whether UK protected geographical indications (GIs) will be recognised by the EU after Brexit.
GIs protect products such as Scotch Beef, Welsh Lamb and Melton Mowbray pork pies and are seen as vital to stop the brands being undermined by imitations.
Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has been left with renewed concerns after Mr Gove told the Scottish Affairs Committee the EU would continue to protect UK GIs as a matter of European law post-Brexit.
This appeared to contradict Defra’s official guidance to food producers in the event of a no-deal scenario, which said the EU may no longer recognise UK GIs.
In a letter sent this week to Mr Gove, Mr Ewing said: “Should the UK Government exit the EU and not recognise existing European GIs, which is the current position in the drafted legislation, there is a very real risk the EU would not recognise the UK GIs in the longer term.
“That is the exact scenario your department’s guidance warns producers about. If you are so convinced there is no threat to our GI producers, will you be amending your guidance?”
Similar concerns have been raised in Wales. Plaid Cymru’s Westminster agriculture spokesman Ben Lake warned EU recognition of UK GIs would ‘rely entirely’ on the goodwill of the EU27, which may not be forthcoming in a no-deal scenario.
Writing for FG’s Brexit Hub, he said the chairman of the UK Protected Food Names Association, Matthew O’Callaghan, had gone so far as to say the UK Government was working under the ‘false hope’ UK GIs would be protected by the EU after Brexit.
NFU Cymru president John Davies also pointed out any scenario which put GIs at risk would be ‘of great concern’ to Welsh farmers.
A Defra spokesperson said: “At the Scottish Affairs Committee, the Environment Secretary reiterated the EU will continue to recognise all our GIs when we leave the EU under EU law. Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority, and EU GIs would be discussed as part of the Future Economic Partnership.”