Swift progress called for on GIs

Ahead of the recent European Council Summit, European spirits producers urged EU & UK negotiators to make effective progress on key separation issues, notably on the continued protection of Geographical Indications in the Withdrawal Agreement which is fundamental for the sector’s continued success as a European export champion.

The European spirits sector contributes over €9 billion to Europe’s overall trade balance and the UK’s spirits sector is very much part of that.

Ensuring that such trade flows with Europe’s existing trade partners and the UK continue during transition is key for producers to operate, stated spiritsEurope recently.

Given that spirits are among Ireland’s fastest-growing export sectors and operate on an integrated all-island basis with seamless cross-border supply chains, avoiding a hard border in Ireland is essential.

Indeed spiritsEurope called for an urgent finalisation and swift transferral of the Withdrawal Agreement to the European Parliament so that the framework of the EU-UK future relationship can be prepared and so provide much-needed certainty to producers before March 2019.

Continued protection of Geographical Indications is essential to the spirits sector.

In particular, the Director-General of spiritsEurope Ulrich Adam referred to three “much-cherished All-Ireland GIs: Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream Liqueur and Irish Poitin.”

As proposed in February 2018, the European Commission’s draft language in the Withdrawal Agreement on GIs would require the UK to provide at least the same level of protection for EU GIs as they hold today.

“We therefore call on the UK and EU to agree to this language which would entitle GI holders to an equivalent right under UK law without the need for re-examination,” stated Adam Ulrich, “Looking further ahead, spirits producers also urge the EU and the UK to provide a commitment on GI protection in the political agreement on the framework of the future relationship.”

The European spirits sector seeks the maximum possible alignment between the UK (particularly Northern Ireland) and the EU with a view to avoiding any disruption to our cross-border supply chains. If a better solution cannot be found through negotiations, a ‘backstop’ position should be agreed by both parties as soon as possible to help the industry prepare, said William Lavelle, from the Irish Spirits Association, who’s on spiritsEurope’s Brexit committee.



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