Scotch meat PGI future could depend on referendum

As the Scottish people cast their votes today, speculation over the future of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) protected Scotch beef and lamb is growing.

PGI protected meat products are granted by regional identity as opposed to country identity. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote Scotland could potentially lose its status, as well as funding for Scotch beef and lamb. In the event of a ‘No’ vote, the status would remain the same as Scotland is viewed as region of the United Kingdom.

However, a spokesperson for Scotland’s Defra office said no change was expected if Scotland remained as part of the European Union (EU): “I don’t envisage any change to the PGI status of Scotch beef and lamb if there is a break-up of the union. At this moment in time Scotland is a member of the EU and as I understand and hope, the PGI status would be transferred seamlessly.

“The current system is the person puts together the case for PGI, then gets it cleared through UK government which goes to the UK representative, then goes to Europe who may or may not approve it. If Scotland is independent and a member of the EU, all that would happen is that you cut out the middle man.”

This, however, depends on Scotland’s EU membership. A spokesperson for the EU commission, which grants PGI statuses for Scotland, said: “Suffice to say a country has to be a member state first to make new applications.  

“But the question as to what would happen to Scottish EU products already registered is shall we say, unchartered waters.”

The meat promotion body for Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) highlighted that, after a ‘Yes’ vote, even if Scotland were not accepted as a member of the EU, it may not affect Scotch beef and lamb.

“If Scotland is independent and a member of the EU then we do not see any issues. If Scotland is independent and not admitted to the EU we do not foresee any problems as the EU now recognises products from non-EU countries and will award them protected status within the EU single market. The same situation would apply if Scotland remains part of the UK but the UK voted to leave the EU,” a spokesperson for QMS said.
Defra told the body would not speculate on the result of the referendum and it was an issue that had “not been discussed”, which would have to wait until the result is released tomorrow morning.

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