Halloumi PDO remains political prisoner

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Registering halloumi as a product of protected designation of origin (PDO) has languished for over five years in EU corridors due to Cyprus problem politics.

An EU representative said the registration of halloumi as a PDO product is still pending due to disagreements between the two communities on the island.

She did not elaborate on what the various stumbling blocks were.

Commission spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer told the Cyprus News Agency, following a meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers on Monday, that the “registration of halloumi cheese in the EU as protected designation of origin is still ongoing”.

Ferrer said 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 July 2015.

She said, “The conditions that were agreed in 2015, are quite detailed but we are still discussing.”

“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 while there have been discussions by Cypriot leaders and the European Commission, but “there are five points that the Commission agreed on which have to be reflected in this common understanding.”

“There is still no agreement on all the points, so discussion on these points need to continue until we find this agreement.”

On July 16, 2015, a few days before the publication of Cyprus’ halloumi file in the European Union’s Journal, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci reached an understanding in the presence of then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker’s office was prompted by the deal to issue a statement saying there was a “consensus” on the issue of Halloumi.

Juncker had noted in the statement, that after a visit to Cyprus he and the leaders of the two sides had resolved the long-standing issue of the halloumi/hellim PDO.

“The European Commission will adopt a proposal to amend the Green Line Regulation on the same day as the official publication of the official application for the registration of Halloumi / Hellim as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) of Regulation No. 1151/2012”.

At the time, Juncker did not go into details, however, following the agreement the European Commission announced that international certification body Bureau Veritas was to be tasked with inspecting halloumi/hellim production throughout the island.

The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with its Turkish Cypriot counterpart would also have a role in supervising the certification process, facilitating Turkish Cypriot producers to export hellim via the Republic.

Shortly after Juncker visited Cyprus, the Commission published Cyprus’ official application to designate halloumi as a PDO.

It was then thought that the process would be completed within the coming months.

However, the file remains open with Cypriot officials, including Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis blaming the lack of progress on political reasons and the link of Halloumi to the Green Line Regulation and the Cyprus problem.