Brexit risks Scotch’s protection, says PM

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has appealed to agricultural workers like those in the Scotch whisky industry to vote to remain in the EU, as he warned that leaving could risk the product’s protected status.

David Cameron, the British prime minister

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister

In a warning aimed at workers in agricultural industries across the UK, the prime minister – whose government supports Britain remaining in the European Union – said the protected designation of origin (PDO) status for drinks products like Scotch whisky and Gloucester cider could disappear if the public votes to leave in the June 23 referendum.

However, ‘Leave’ supporters argue that it is the latest example of so-called “Project Fear”, the supposed campaign run by ‘In’ backers to scare the public into voting to stay in the EU.

They say that products made outside the EU, such as Mexican Tequila, are protected in Europe, and that products like Scotch whisky could negotiate the same protection if Britain leaves.

In an article published in the Gloucester Citizen, Mr Cameron said the EU currently gives protection to a number of food and drink products made uniquely in areas of the UK – protection that he claims will disappear after a vote to leave on 23 June.

“Protected status enjoyed across Europe by our unique products, such as Gloucestershire cider… will be lost”, he said.

His argument has been backed by the Scotch Whisky Association.

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, told Scotland’s Herald newspaper: “The EU is a big help in protecting the geographical indication Scotch Whisky.

“The EU sets the rules for the legal protection of Scotch Whisky within Europe and seeks to have it recognised in trade agreements with other countries. This would be put at risk if Britain were to leave the EU.”

In February, the SWA released its official view on the referendum, saying it was backing the ‘Remain’ campaign due the EU’s free trade policy which it said was “central to Scotch whisky’s success”.

2 Responses to “Brexit risks Scotch’s protection, says PM”

  1. Rodger Boyd says:

    I understand and accept the SWA wanting to support the Remain campaign but for them to suggest that the UK Government is not capable of protecting the geographical indication of Scotch whisky without support from the EU is totally wrong. Surely in a free trade arrangement it is in the interest of both parties to reach an agreement that benefits both sides, therefore I don’t think the Scotch whisky industry will be penalised while at the same time Champagne, Prosecco,Mateus Rose, etc. etc. is allowed to continue trading as normal.

  2. Nick Soper says:

    I suspect the problem is timing. The UK no longer has the officials or expertise that could help in this area, as most of it is now EU-competence. Separately, SW is protected by large numbers of agreements with third countries through the EU’s trade agreements. If UK is no longer a member of EU, then these will no longer be valid, unless of course the UK is able (within 2 years) to negotiate a deal with the EU to allow the protection to continue. But timelines for negotiating such deals are always very long. Even if there was (a) expertise in the UK, and (b) goodwill among the EU and other trade partners (neither of which are currently visible) there is NO prospect of the UK getting a deal with the EU, or anyone else for that matter within 2 years.

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