The file on the registration of halloumi as a product of protected designation of origin (PDO) has not been closed as there is still no agreement on all points of common understanding reached between the President of the European Commission and the leaders of the two communities in 2015, an EU official said on Tuesday.
Commission spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer was replying to a question from the Cyprus News Agency following Monday’s discussion in the Council of Ministers of Agriculture.
“The process aiming for the registration of halloumi/hellim cheese in the EU as protected designation of origin is still ongoing,” she said.
The conditions that were agreed in 2015, she said, are quite detailed “but we are still discussing.”
Noting the issue was raised by Cyprus during Monday’s committee meeting, Ferrer said the Commission was in contact with all parties. “It is still not the case that the geographical indication is registered in the EU which means that it cannot be registered in trade agreements,” she explained.
Asked to explain the reasons for the lack of agreement on the file, the spokeswoman added: “there have been discussions by the leaders of the two communities and the European Commission. There are five points that the Commission agreed have to be reflected in this common understanding.”
Unfortunately, she concluded, “there is still no agreement on all the points, so these questions need to continue until we find this agreement.”
Then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said in July 2015 after a visit to Cyprus that he and the leaders of the two sides had resolved the long-standing issue of the halloumi/hellim PDO.
He did not go into details, however. After the agreement facilitated by Juncker, the European Commission announced that international certification body Bureau Veritas was to be tasked with inspecting halloumi/hellim production throughout the island and action would also be taken to facilitate Turkish Cypriot producers to export hellim via the government-controlled areas.
A few days after Juncker’s visit to Cyprus, the Commission published Cyprus’ official application to designate halloumi as a PDO. Though it was initially thought the process would be completed within a year, the file remains open with Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis last year blaming the lack of progress on political reasons, adding that the application had been linked with the Green Line Regulation and the Cyprus problem.