The EU trade agreement with the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (EU-SADC EPA) essentially removes protection for two major PDO products, feta cheese and Kalamata olives. According to the Department of Trade and Industry in Johannesburg, South Africa only imports the Greek feta ‘Dodona’, while all similar products, without exception, are produced in South Africa, albeit from cow's milk. As far as ‘Kalamata Olives’ are concerned, under the SADC agreement, the designation ‘Kalamata’ may continue to be used by South African producers for similar products.

Beyond the fact of protecting these products, in Greece there are today 300 000 people working on 100 000 farms — basically family enterprises — producing 100 000 tonnes of feta cheese annually. Greece exports feta worth EUR 250 000 to 35 countries on 5 Continents and its export have increased by 73% over the last decade so that they now account for 86% of total Greek cheese exports. As far as table olives are concerned, Greek exports are worth approximately EUR 450 000.

In view of the above, will the Commission say:
— Under the SADC agreement, how many PDOs are still protected and for how many products has protection been reduced, by permitting countries in Southern Africa the right to produce them?
— Will it be possible to review the agreement during the five-year transitional period?

Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission

The EU-SADC (Southern African Development Community) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), was signed at Kasane in Botswana, on 10 June 2016, with six of the members of SADC, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

Under Protocol 3 (Geographical indications and trade in wines and spirits) to the EU-SADC EPA, South Africa will protect 251 EU geographical indications (GIs). These include 29 GIs for products coming from Greece, including ‘Φέτα/Feta’ and ‘Ελιά Καλαμάτας/Elia Kalamatas’.

Until now, only EU GI names for certain wines and spirits have been protected following the Agreements on Trade in Wines and on Trade in Spirits signed with South Africa in 2002. Hence, when the EU-SADC EPA enters into force, the listed GIs for EU agriculture products and foodstuffs will move from current non-protected status to protected status. In no case is protection for a GI removed or reduced. Rather the entry into force of the EU-SADC EPA will increase the protection of the listed 251 EU GIs.

Protocol 3 only applies between the EU and South Africa, while other parties to the EU SADC EPA (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Swaziland) may join at a later date.

The EU-SADC EPA foresees rules and procedures to make changes to the lists of protected GI names, and the Commission is committed to ensuring that the GI protocol is reviewed, together with the whole agreement, no later than five years after its entry into force.