The European Commission has indicated that it would be possible for Northern Ireland to make a submission requesting that the geographical area of the Irish grass-fed beef Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) be extended to the whole island of Ireland.

The European Commission also indicated that this process should be viewed as an ‘amicable procedure’.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue confirmed that the European Commission has this week responded to Ireland's grass-fed beef PGI application, with detailed technical queries, which are now being examined.

Ongoing dialogue

The application was submitted last November after an extensive consultation process with stakeholders.

“I wrote to [European agriculture] Commissioner Wojciechowski informing him that Ireland would support the PGI being extended on an all-island basis, when a grass-fed verification system is in place in Northern Ireland,” Minister McConalogue said.

“I am pleased that the Commission has indicated that it would be available to participate in any appropriate dialogue to assist the process. My Department and Bord Bia have been in ongoing dialogue with their Northern Ireland counterparts on these issues since last summer.”

Tangible benefits

The PGI application is still under a deliberative process as the Commission has not finalised its scrutiny of the application.

When the queries just received have been addressed to the Commission’s satisfaction, the next stage of the process will be publication of an EU opposition procedure, i.e. a consultation process for interested parties from other EU member states or third countries.

“This communication from the Commission is a positive development, and I am particularly pleased that my views in relation to the inclusion of Northern Ireland have been taken on board,” Minister McConalogue continued.

“I want the PGI for Irish grass-fed beef to bring real and tangible benefits to our beef farmers by acting as way of driving higher values for the world-class product produced by our farm families.”