A important aim of EU trade plan is to acquire global safety for its specialty food items like Roquefort, feta cheese, and Parma ham. Based on a new research, Martijn Huysmans argues these kinds of protections will continue to participate in a essential job in around the world trade negotiations right after Brexit.

In past trade agreements, the EU has sought to defend lists of EU specialty food items identified as Geographical Indications (GIs). The EU currently safeguards all-around 1,500 meals GIs. Whilst over 3 quarters of these are found in the ‘Southern Five’ – France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – most member states have some. United kingdom GIs safeguarded in the EU incorporate Welsh Lamb, Scottish Farmed Salmon, and Blue Stilton.

Economic and cultural significance

GI goods sell for greater costs and are safeguarded versus imitation. However GIs are not only about economics. Especially in the Southern Five, they are also a matter of nationwide delight. All of the Southern 5 have registered their cuisines with UNESCO. In a seminal study on the cultural elements of foods, sociologist Michaela DeSoucey coined the expression gastronationalism: the attachment to and security of national foods.

Factoring in gastronationalism, it is fewer shocking that the Zampone di Modena – a stuffed pig’s trotter – has been safeguarded in faraway nations like Korea, Moldova, and Japan. Compared to huge small business solutions like Parmesan cheese, the menace of international imitation of this a lot more niche Italian delicacy appears to be minimal. For this reason its inclusion in EU trade agreements appears to be driven far more by gastronationalism.

The figure below, which is taken from a new research, demonstrates the probability of a GI getting mentioned for defense in 11 trade agreements as a function of its gross sales and regardless of whether it originates in a gastronationalist state. The latter variable is operationalised in the main design as being a Southern 5 place, but I also use substitute variables these types of as the share of places to eat serving the national delicacies. The graph demonstrates that the difference in between the gastronationalist Southern Five and the other member states is specifically pronounced for small product sales GIs: the Southern Five also get hold of safety for economically much less crucial foodstuff GIs. Countries with minimal degrees of gastronationalism, like Germany, target in its place on their economically most significant products and solutions, like Bavarian Beer.

Figure: Predicted probability of a GI becoming mentioned in 11 EU trade agreements

Be aware: The x-axis exhibits the logarithm of GI revenue. The y-axis shows the likelihood of remaining shown based on a statistical probit product which include manage variables these kinds of as a country’s Prevalent Agricultural Plan receipts and the calendar year the GI was registered. For additional data, see the author’s accompanying analyze.

Member states’ ex-put up veto

Trade is an exceptional EU competence – the explanation why the Uk could not commence negotiating trade agreements just before Brexit. Trade agreements are negotiated by the Fee on mandates by the Council. The moment the Fee has hammered out an settlement, it is place to an up or down vote in the Council – which de facto utilizes a threshold of unanimity.

On major of the require for unanimous Council acceptance, member states’ positions have been strengthened by the new necessity for ratification of trade agreements. Reducing a very long story limited, even after the Council has signed an arrangement, nations around the world have to have to approve it all over again for it to arrive into total authorized impact. The motive is that new trade agreements have mixed trade and trader-state dispute settlement, which is a member condition competency.

The want for unanimous Council acceptance and ratification indicate that nations around the world essentially have an ex-post veto about trade specials. Member states are not scared to threaten use of this veto: Italy, Greece, and Cyprus have all threatened not to ratify the Extensive Financial and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada above inadequate defense of their specialty food items.

At to start with sight, the possibility of ex-publish vetoes weakens the Commission’s hand. In reality, it does just the opposite. During negotiations, the Fee can declare the buying and selling spouse really should give in to demands for GI protection, since otherwise the arrangement will be vetoed. Political scientist Dirk de Bièvre has referred to as this the paradox of weak spot in EU trade policy. In line with this paradox, the willingness of the Southern Five to veto trade agreements above GIs has enabled the EU to export protection of its GIs to its trading partners.

Implications for Brexit

If the British isles wants to negotiate a detailed trade settlement with the EU, GI protection will be on the menu. As claimed in the push, the EU was not amused when the United kingdom appeared to be striving to decrease its commitments on shielding EU GIs. But on GIs, like on quite a few themes, Brexit Britain is stuck among a rock and a challenging place: if it simply continues next EU regulations, what was the level of Brexit?

1 of the hopes of Brexiteers was to ditch EU rules. The goal was twofold: owning significantly less pink tape inside of Britain, but also acquiring extra latitude in negotiating its possess trade offers with countries not eager on EU laws. The US becoming a fierce opponent of the EU’s GI system, just one can have an understanding of the Uk temptation to simplicity GI laws in a bid to secure a transatlantic trade deal. Even so, with Joe Biden soon to enter the White Home, a speedy United kingdom-US trade offer is off the desk in any case.


The EU has fought challenging to make its buying and selling companions defend specialty foodstuff. The quantitative review offered above, centered on 11 previous trade agreements, displays that both of those economics and gastronationalism engage in a job in determining which of these GIs get secured. The threats not to ratify CETA illustrate that southern EU member states choose GIs very seriously.

The implication is that any region wishing to conclude a extensive trade agreement with the EU – be it the United kingdom, Australia, or the US – will have to defend at minimum some EU GIs. Just after all, you just can’t have your Cornish Pasty, Lübecker Marzipan or Brioche Vendéenne and consume it also.

For a lot more data, see the author’s open accessibility post at Review of International Political Economic system

Note: This write-up offers the views of the author, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London Faculty of Economics. Highlighted picture credit: Martin Delisle (CC BY-SA 2.)