A further call for action to protect food and drink products known by their geographical origins has been made by Scottish ministers, after Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator in the Brexit talks, noted that the subject was one of the outstanding issues still to be agreed in talks.
In an article published yesterday, M Barnier said the UK Government had not yet agreed to protect geographical indications (GI) such as Scotch whisky.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Fergus Ewing said the Scottish Government had been pressing the UK Government to agree a need for a UK GI System post-Brexit.
He commented: "This is something that we have been calling for the UK Government to do for a long time. The European Commission’s chief negotiator recognises the significant contribution that these producers make to the wider economy.
"We have been pressing UK Government to agree a need for a UK GI System post-Brexit from the outset and, while we welcome confirmation in their white paper of the plans to do so, there remains a question over maintaining the existing protection currently enjoyed by our producers within the EU through the mutual recognition of our protected products.
"It is extremely alarming that the EU says this has not yet been resolved and that the failure of the UK Government to reach agreement on this issue is being cited as one of the obstacles to reaching an overall Withdrawal Agreement. A no deal outcome would be catastrophic for our food and drink industry and the economy as a whole."
A UK Government spokesperson said negotiations were continuing and that the Government would establish "specific GI schemes to protect UK GIs in the future". Protected products would "continue to be safeguarded in the UK" after leaving the EU.