The EU protects its own

Another example of how the EU has different priorities to the UK

Roquefort cheese - Credit: Thesupermat

On Friday last week Bexit Facts4EU.Org published its analysis of the latest EU ‘Agri-food’ report. In it we showed how the EU is spending 36% of its total annual budget on its ‘Common Agricultural Policy’ (CAP). That equated to €58 billion last year (2018) alone.

This contrasts with an agricultural sector in the UK contributing just 0.5% to the UK economy.

Today we look at EU protectionism in relation to its agricultural sector

One of the EU’s ‘Brexit red lines’ in the Withdrawal Agreement concerns the EU’s protectionist policies over French, Italian, Spanish, and other EU27 agricultural products and drinks. The technical term in the EU for this is “Geographical Indication Protections”.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

EU agri-food protectionism

  • The EU’s red line is to protect continental farmers
  • It has 3,300 "geographical protections" on food and drinks names
  • During EU membership, only 88 British foods and drinks have been protected by the EU
  • Italy has 4 times more, France over 3 times more

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

The subject of Geographical Indication Protections is complex, as you would expect from the EU. Here we simplify it, quantify it, and explain how it should have been a bargaining chip for UK negotiators. Firstly, here is what Monsieur Barnier said when he announced his ‘red line’ last year.

Protecting Champagne, Roquefort, and Parma Ham

Excerpts from EU Chief Negotiator’s speech, 31 Aug 2018

“Secondly, we worked this week on certain outstanding issues of the Withdrawal Agreement itself, which is a precondition for any future cooperation.

“On geographical indications - 3000 geographical indications in the 28 countries of the Union - I expressed again my worry.

“The EU's position is clear: Brexit should not lead to a loss of existing intellectual property rights. We must protect the entire stock of geographical indications.”

- EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, Brussels, 31 Aug 2018

EU's protected agricultural products market is worth €54.3 billion

The EU’s system involves three different types of classification. Whilst it may sound boring, it is not small potatoes. The EU Commission says that in value terms:

“the market for EU geographical indications is around €54.3 billion”

How has the UK done when it comes to EU agri-product protections?

Brexit Facts4EU.Org looked at how much the EU has done to protect British products. We researched the EU’s list of ‘Geographical Indication Protections’ for food and drink products to see how much British farmers have been benefiting from the UK’s EU membership in this respect.

The EU claims over 3,300 products are protected in total, of which a large proportion are drinks. We found around 1500 food product designations.

The results for the UK’s farmers and drinks producers make for sorry reading. DEFRA reports that:

“There are 88 protected food names in the UK, including food products, wine, beers, ciders, spirit drinks and wool.”

This is a fraction of the protections afforded to some other major EU countries.

Observations

The EU’s trade priorities rarely seem to be those of the UK

The simple fact is that whenever we read the EU’s documents about international trade, the protection of (often inefficient) continental farmers takes a very high priority in negotiations, whereas the areas in which the UK is strong have virtually been ignored.

The above article provides just one more example of how the supposed benefits of EU membership have somehow always materialised in a disproportionately small way for the UK, despite the wishful thinking of Remainer MPs.

[ Sources: EU Commission | DEFRA ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 09 Sep 2019

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