European Union officials fear that Britain’s impending departure from the 28-nation bloc could allow British companies to violate protections on thousands of food and drink products made in the EU.
Under current EU law around 1,200 foodstuffs, like Parmesan cheese and Champagne, have so-called “geographical indication” status, meaning that they can only be produced in certain areas to be officially labelled.
For example, Parmesan cheese must be made in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
Once the UK leaves the EU, however, it will no longer be subject to these directives, and British firms could theoretically start labelling products like cheese and sparkling wine as British Parmesan and British Champagne. This has senior agriculture officials in Brussels worried, according to a report obtained by The Guardian.
Here is the key extract featured by the paper:
“If no arrangements to another effect are made, the protection afforded by the above-mentioned legislation would normally cease to apply in the UK, which means that over a thousand European registered names could be exposed to violation in this neighbouring country of the EU27.”
Paradoxically, the report notes, British foodstuffs would remain protected unless the EU commission decides to repeal the protections.
“As things currently stand, the UK has 59 such registered names, including e.g. Lakeland Herwick Meat, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese, West Wales Coracle Caught Sewin, and Scotch Whisky,” the report adds.
Regulations on foodstuffs have frequently been cited by pro-Brexit campaigners as examples of the “loony laws” handed down by Brussels, that Britain will be able to extricate itself from post-Brexit. The myth that bananas can’t be too straight or too bendy is perhaps the most famous example of this.