EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Ref. Ares(2017)2595730 - 22/05/2017 EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT Directorate A. International Director Brussels, A1/DN D(2017)2900165 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 thessgeor@yahoo.gr Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111