Irish spirits industry calls for post-Brexit GI protection

21st February, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

Irish producers have further stressed the importance of protecting ‘all-island’ geographical indication (GI) spirits, which can be made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, after Brexit.

Irish spirits Brexit

Ireland’s ‘all-island’ spirits are “uniquely exposed to Brexit”

Trade body the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) stressed it is “vital that the same level of legal recognition and enforcement remains in place” for Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueurs and Poitín after the UK leaves the European Union.

The association has said Ireland’s drinks industry “faces unique risks associated with regulatory divergence and trade border controls after a hard Brexit”, since the Republic of Ireland will remain part of the EU, while Northern Ireland will leave the bloc.

“Post-Brexit, these three Irish spirits GIs will be the only ones to carry such protections where production takes place both in the EU and outside the EU,” commented Patricia Callan, director of the ABFI.

“With this in mind, it’s vital that the same level of legal recognition and enforcement remains in place for these three spirits after Brexit, as any regulatory divergence could result in the serious undermining of standards and protection of these products.”

Callan also called for the final EU-UK agreement to state that GI spirits produced in Ireland can continue to be labelled ‘Product of Ireland’.

“We would also call on the UK Government to ensure that any future trade agreements negotiated with countries outside the EU should include a requirement recognising and protecting the GI of the three all-island spirits,” she said.

If a hard border was to be reintroduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit, this could also have a significant negative impact on the drinks industry supply chain, leading to “delays, costs and bureaucracy”, the ABFI said.

The UK and EU have committed to avoiding a hard border, but the ABFI wants “these commitments to be fully translated into robust legal form as part of the withdrawal agreement”.

For more information on how Brexit could impact Ireland’s spirits industry, see our in-depth report on the topic.

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