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EU sets up bicommunal group to promote halloumi PDO

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Cyprus has welcomed an EU initiative to create a bicommunal working group to promote the implementation of halloumi’s newly adopted Product of Origin (PDO) file on both sides of the divide.

The European Commission has established a bicommunal informal working group on halloumi/hellim, which will focus on the correct implementation of the standards agreed in the Protected Designation of Origin scheme for halloumi or hellim as it is known in Turkish.

Brussels sent out a call to interested individuals to apply to become members of the group.

The group, which will meet periodically, will exchange information and share experiences and good practices among stakeholders relating to their participation in the PDO scheme for halloumi/ hellim and review the functioning of the inspection system for its production.

According to an announcement by the Commission, the group will be composed of up to ten members. An equal number will come from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community, with the members being appointed to represent a common interest.

Members can be representatives of Chambers of Commerce, farmers’ organisations or dairies involved in the production of halloumi, relevant professional interests or civil society organisations.

The Commission invites individuals to contact the email [email protected] to apply to become members of the group. The deadline for applications is 10 May.

In its announcement, the Cyprus Agriculture Ministry said the producers and the trade sector representatives would comprise the working group that will exchange views and practices.

It also underlined that goods produced by Turkish Cypriots need to fulfil the prerequisites for public health set by the EU and the prerequisites for PDO products.

However, the initiative has not sat too well with Turkish Cypriots, who accused Brussels of meddling in “internal affairs”.

The coalition said the attempt to set up a body with representatives appointed by Brussels was to dictate who would represent the Turkish Cypriots on the matter.

Turkish Cypriots object to the European Union appointing the Republic as the authority to carry out quality checks on halloumi produced in the north.

Halloumi’s ‘product of designated origin’ (PDO) status, approved in April 2021 by the European Commission, means the rubbery cheese can only be produced in Cyprus under strict criteria, preventing imitators worldwide from claiming the crown.

Cyprus’ PDO file submitted in 2014 said goat’s milk should by 2024 exceed cow’s milk, reaching a minimum of 51%, produced from specific Cypriot breeds of goats and sheep.