The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a big and very important deal, in the process of negotiation. At this stage, EU negotiating team arranges meetings with the US negotiators and exchanges proposals in order to prepare a draft text. When this text is finalised, it will be submitted to member – states’ goverments, as well as the european parliament in order to let them decide if they will accept the deal, which covers various sectors, such as environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights or even internet privacy.
While the procedure might take a long period of time until the draft text is finalised, many have criticized the way the negotiation is being developed, claiming that the texts that are being exchanged and written by the two parties aren’t open to the public. Among the various matters that are being included in the TTIP deal, there is the sector of the agricultural products that are officially protected as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). While the EU aknowlegdes 1305 protected products, EU Commission has prepared a list that includes only 201 of them. As a result many GI products are left out of the deal, facing the possibility to remain unprotected in the US market. The matter was discussed recently at the AREPO network annual convention. AREPO is a network of regional governments and producer associations that deals with products of origin. The network aims to promote and defend the interests of producers and consumers of European regions involved in the valorisation of quality food products.
Agrotypos has spoken with Mr. Charalambos Piteris, an agronomist who attended the recent General Assembly of the Association that took place on April 14th. On this meeting, the members adopted a common position on TTIP negotiations, following the publication of the negotiating documents by the European Commission in March 2016. AREPO opposes to the principle of an a priori restricted list of Geographical Indications (GIs) and asks the European Commission for a widespread recognition and strong protection of GIs in TTIP.
Mr Piteris represented the region of Crete, which has five products icluded in the list of 201. We should note that wines and spirits aren’t included in this list. There are 4 olive oils from each prefecture of Crete and the famous graviera cheese. As he said: “The region of Crete is a member of the AREPO network since 2011. AREPO network consists of 27 European regions and over 400 associations of producers so when the president adresses to the institutions of the EU, his arguments are being considered as highly – esteemed.
“The consensus of our meeting was that all regions disagree with an a priori restricted list of Geographical Indications because we consider each and every product as a cultural and literary property that should not be judged only from its commercial value. EU claims to have asked from the ministries of agriculture of each member – state to form this restricted list. Our deputy governor, Mrs. Theano Vrentzou has sent a letter to the greek ministry of agriculture asking the inclusion of all 19 protected products of Crete to be included in the list. The term used in the list is “Geographical Indications” (GI and refers to both PDOs and PGIs”, said Mr. Piteris. The afforementioned list contains products from many states with great agriculture tradition and well established GI’s, such as Gorgonzola and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Italy, Edam and Gouda from the Netherlands and Scotish farmed salmon from the UK.
You can read here the announcement of the AREPO network
You can see here the 201 products of the proposed list