Danger for FETA PDO because of the EU-South Africa agreement
After the EU trade agreement with Canada, the Feta cheese is excluded again in the new agreement with the 15 Southern African countries (SADC). Despite all the warnings and notices to all governmental, nothing seems that can be done..
Feta is threatened to lose its identity, since foreign products not related to the authentic Feta will be able to compete it freely on the South African market, misleading in this way the consumers.
The Ministry of Rural Development implicitly admitted by announcement the clearance sale of Feta interests on the altar of EU trade agreement with South Africa (Agr. EU-SADC), which is a harbinger of the commercial EU agreement with Canada, ratified in autumn, and also with the upcoming one with the US (TTIP):
"We made every effort to achieve the greatest possible guarantees for an agreement, which unfortunately had already been completed by September 2014" the Greek Minister of Rural Development, Evangelos Apostolou, said, after the meeting he had with the EU Commissioner, Mr. Hogan. And continued: "we managed to bind the European Commission for the revision of the agreement, within the transitional period of next 5 years, to fully protect Feta cheese, before a negative situation begins."
The Greek Dairy Product Industries Association, following Press Releases and Letters to the Greek Prime Minister and the leaders of the Parliament parties, sent a poignant Letter to all MPs about the issue.
The letter states:
SUBJECT: PROTECTION OF THE NATIONAL PRODUCT "FETA"
Honorable Member of Parliament,
With this letter, we would like to bring to your attention (in the unlikely case that you do not know), an unprecedented in terms of severity fact that will have tragic consequences for what is probably our national product, FETA. The European Union in the agreement to which concluded with the N. Africa countries, proposed the exception of this regulated throughout Europe designation of origin (PDO) of all the protected PDO products (the only one who was excluded from the 213 PDO European cheeses!).
Unfortunately the Greek State, by the Ministers, accepted on June 1, 2016 this completely unjustified and scandalous exception! As a justification for this incredible act invoked a meaningless and general verbal promise by the Commissioner Hogan (if it was serious, the EU would embody it in the agreement) that the EU will try in the next 5 years to see if they can integrate Feta where is entitled to be from the beginning, aming all relevant European PDO cheeses. A promise literally "on the fly", which since it is not included today with all other 212 PDO cheeses of the similar class, do consider what chances will have after 5 years when:
• we will have lost "de facto"our strong negotiating position (ie. the "we do not sign, if you do not equally accept FETA") and
• when market conditions will be very different (the white cheese producers will be been multiplied, will call it as Feta and this view will have been established for over 5 years!) and therefore the difficulty of removing this right will be much greater.
Unfortunately, neither the consequences of such acceptance nor the irreversible of this concession have been understood by the agreed. Failure to protect Feta in a new very large market, which opens much more with this agreement, brings our national product at a disadvantage because in these areas Feta will coexist and unequally compete with cheap white cheeses of any composition and production process which will bring the same name (meaning that they will be called as Feta)
But the most important is that these consumers will be exposed in a market that the FETA concept will be very different from that of a single FETA, both in terms of composition and organoleptic characteristics. In short, Feta will lose its identity and its characteristics, it will be for these consumers the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, this procedure is also irreversible and catastrophic for Feta's position and image globally. If you combine this with the fact that the same finding has been introduced by the EU in ALL for signing agreements with all other areas (eg Canada, China, America, Vietnam, Singapore, etc.), then the Feta future has not only undermined but also destroyed. This unconditional global allocation of the name 'Feta' literally to anyone will open the appetite of Danes, French & German to dispute for the third time the identity of Feta within the EU. Please, prevent from this disaster by any means you have .
Your active reaction, we are waiting for, is over and above party lines and ideologies. This is our national product for which nobody may have a different view. Please do not be a victim of the European "sirens" who are shamelessly handing out promises and false hopes just to close the deal. For it depends only on you, we ask you to pledge with a personal statement to do everything:
1. to immediately bring the text of this heinous agreement for ratification to the Hellenic Parliament
2. to commit that you will vote against when it comes and
3. to do the same for all other agreements prepared by the EU, which have the same unacceptable exception.
We suppose that you consider that all voters, who you represent, wish (without exception) just this. A big NO to Feta’s identity selling off. A big NO to abandoning our national heritage and tradition. Thank you in advance for (your hopefully positive) contribution to preventing this national disaster.
The Foreign Ministry supports that the Feta issue was raised again in negotiation.