Drinks industry responds to Brexit progress

18th December, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

As Brexit negotiations progress, drinks trade associations have called for a “commitment to continuous full protection” of geographical indications and trademarks for wines and spirits.

Last week, the UK’s prime minister Theresa May secured an agreement to move forward with protracted Brexit negotiations, and can now discuss the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU.

As the first phase of Brexit negotiations concludes, both parties will discuss a two-year transition period after the divorce in March 2019.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), has urged the UK Government to “move quickly to confirm the exact details of the transition period with the EU” to avoid a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

“The concept of a transition period to deliver a smooth Brexit process is sensible,” she added.

“We believe any transition period should ensure that domestic regulatory frameworks remain certain, and that UK businesses continue to benefit from EU free trade agreements (FTAs) with third countries; as well as ensuring that businesses have the time to prepare in advance for any changes to exporting procedures and other regulations that will be required once the UK is fully outside the EU.”

For Jean-Marie Barillère, president of Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), the European drinks industry needs “clarity on exactly how these political statements of intent will be translated into technical and operational realities”.

He added: “Looking ahead, an early agreement securing continuous full protection of the PDO/PGIs for wines and GIs for spirit drinks is central to our ability to continue to prosper as European export champions.”

Furthermore, the Irish Spirits Association said a final Brexit agreement on trade should protect the “integrated all-island spirits industry and our cross-border supply chains”, as well as ‘all-island’ GIs.

The wine and spirits industry has previously expressed “frustration” over stalled Brexit negotiations and sent a position paper to Brexit negotiators with the aim of minimising disruption to trade flow.

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