Australians get ready to say goodbye to the name prosecco and feta as European Union trade talks continue

feta battle

According to a former top EU official, in order for a trade deal worth nearly $100 billion to be achieved, Australia and Europe will likely have to compromise on contentious names like prosecco and feta.

The negotiations between the two have been ongoing for five years, with some hope for a quick resolution initially. Trade Minister Don Farrell has traveled to Brussels with the aim of breaking the deadlock, which has involved Australian threats to withdraw from the negotiations. Despite the challenges, there is a positive momentum and a belief that a failure to strike a free-trade agreement between Australia and the European Union would be unthinkable. Senator Farrell is meeting with Valdis Dombrovskis, the successor of Phil Hogan, as well as the EU's agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to resume face-to-face negotiations.

Concerns have been growing among exporters who desire closer trade ties with Europe, fearing a collapse of the negotiations without an agreement. Australia is seeking increased trade access for beef, lamb, sugar, cheese, and rice exports to a market of nearly 250 million people. On the other hand, Europe is requesting that Australian producers stop using terms like prosecco, mozzarella, feta, and parmesan, which are geographical indicators limiting the use of these names to specific regions.

Although the list of protected names is extensive, only a few are deemed contentious. There have been indications that Europe may accept terms like "Australian prosecco" or "Australian feta," a concession that has not been offered in previous trade deals. While it has been anticipated that Australia will have to relinquish these names for a deal to materialize, Mr. Hogan did not specify the likelihood of that outcome, but stated that solutions have been found in the past and are likely to be found on this occasion as well.

Australia argues that as a nation of migrants, European cultures have been brought to Australia, and therefore, the use of these names should be allowed.

Nevertheless, it is expected that Australia will need to let go of those names if a deal is to be reached. When asked about any non-negotiable issues from the Europeans, Mr. Hogan replied that there were none, emphasizing the need for all parties to approach the negotiations with an open mind. Despite the sensitivities involved, there is a shared determination on both sides to reach a deal.

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