Ref. Ares(2017)2595730 - 22/05/2017
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Directorate A. International
Dear Mr Emmanouil,
Thank you for your email sent on 3 May 2017 to Mr Vassilakis, where you have expressed
concerns of Greek producers of "Feta" cheese in light of the entry into force of EU trade
agreements with Canada (CETA) and Southern African countries (SADC EPA). Let me
address each of these concerns in turn.
Status of Feta in EU trade agreements: in substance, you allege that in the trade
agreements concluded by the European Union, "Feta" was the only protected designation of
origin (PDO) regarding cheeses that did not benefit from a full protection.
Please note in this connection that while there are circa 3400 geographical indications
currently protected at EU level, among which 232 cheeses, the protection of "Feta" has
systematically been sought in the EU's international agreements, even where only a restricted
list of geographical indications was submitted to our negotiating partners.
The full protection of "Feta" has already been achieved in most neighbourhood countries
with whom the EU has concluded an international agreement (e.g. Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Serbia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, etc…), as well as in
Korea. Such a full protection of "Feta" has equally been secured in a series of agreements
that have not yet entered into force (e.g. with Morocco or Iceland).
The Commission is further committed to achieving the best possible level of protection in
respect of the flagship PDO "Feta" in all ongoing or future agreements.
Feta protection in CETA and SADC EPA: you consider in essence that the lesser
protection granted to the designation PDO "Feta" in Canada and South Africa is not justified
by the limited production of cheese bearing such name in these two countries, and that "Feta"
is unduly discriminated as compared to PDOs from other Member States.
The protection of intellectual property rights is governed by the principle of territoriality, and
is subject to the concrete market situation prevailing in the country concerned.
Within the EU, the designation "Feta" was registered by the Commission as a PDO by virtue
of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2002, following an extremely difficult 8-year process that led to
11 judicial proceedings in front of the European Court of Justice. It was established in this
framework that in Greece itself, the compulsory milk composition of "Feta" was defined in
1987, the corresponding geographical area delimited in 1988 and its formal protection as a
PDO enshrined in 1994.
Mr Giorgos Emmanouil
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111