SOME of Scotland and Britain's most famous foods and brands - including Stornoway Black Pudding - are at risk from a new European Union free trade agreement which is set to be ratified on Wednesday (February 15), according to a report at the weekend in the Herald newspaper.
The final agreement between the EU and Canada fails to protect any British produce - because UK ministers failed to add any to the free trade deal, the report claims.
This means that Arbroath smokies, Scottish salmon, Scotch beef and lamb, Stornoway black pudding, Orkney cheddar and Ayrshire Dunlop cheese, as well as the Cornish pasty and Cumberland sausages and Jersey royal potatoes that enjoy EU protection, could now be threatened by a wave of cheap Canadian fakes, it is claimed.
Details of the final EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement show that while there are a host of products from other EU nations that are protected from Gorgonzola cheese in Italy, Edam in Holland and Camembert cheese in France to Prosciutto ham and Münchener Bier in Germany, there are no British products listed.
Campaigners first brought the issue to ministers' attention two years ago, but the final agreement backed by the UK government on Monday remains devoid of British produce. Scottish whisky already enjoys protection in Canada under an existing EU-Canada wine and spirits agreement.
Jean Blaylock, policy officer at campaign group Global Justice Now said: “Because the UK government decided not to include any geographical protected status for foods in CETA, lamb, beef or salmon from Canada could be sold in the UK under labels of ‘Orkney lamb’, ‘Scotch beef’ or ‘Scottish salmon’ – terms which would otherwise have been restricted to Scottish products and supported local producers.
And Nick Dearden, director of GJN added: "It's too late to do anything now. It’s a disgrace that the British government – unlike virtually every other government in Europe – has failed to protect these products. Scotland can be particularly aggrieved given their own government has no seat at the table or in the negotiations, and yet benefits from some of the UK’s most well-known [protections]."
The CETA deal which will finally be voted on by the European Parliament on Wednesday (February 15) will come into immediate effect in the UK, if as expected it passes. While the UK remains in the EU and is negotiating the terms of the Brexit divorce it will be subject to the agreement’s provisions.
CETA gives Canada preferential access to the EU single market for the first time and has been referred to as a potential template for a post-Brexit Britain's trade agreement with Europe.
A spokesperson for Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the Scottish Government quango that promotes the red meat sector said: “The prevailing confusion about this matter is unwelcome. Clearly it is very important that the globally iconic Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb PGI brands - among the first meat brands to receive PGI accreditation more than 20 years ago - are included in this agreement."
The 'Geographical Indications' protections list, which identifies a product as originating from the EU, contains food products from the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Holland, Cyprus, Sweden and Romania.
Other EU products protected include Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, Roquefort cheese, Feta cheese, Valencia oranges and Nurnberger Bratwurst sausages.
All EU brands protected in the CETA agreement already have “protected geographical indicator” (PGI) status in Europe Under that scheme protected regional specialities, such as the Arbroath smokie, can only be sold under their traditional names if they were actually made in the region.
Around 60 British products are on the EU's protected status list of 1,100 foods. The UK gave its sanction to the CETA agreement through Parliament's European B Committee last week, despite appeals for months to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox for a debate in the floor of the House of Commons.