Scottish ministers have issued a fresh call for action to protect the status of unique food and drink products after Brexit.
Under European law, products such as Scotch whisky, Stornoway black pudding and Arbroath smokies are protected by “geographical indications” (GI) that recognise their regional importance and distinctive characteristics.
The UK Government has indicated it intends to establish its own GI scheme after leaving the EU.
In an article published on Thursday, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the protection of geographical indications is one of the outstanding issues yet to be agreed.
The Scottish Government has once again called for the issue to be resolved.
Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Maintaining our protected food names and other geographical indications following Brexit is vital – this is something that we have been calling for the UK Government to do for a long time.
“The European Commission’s chief negotiator recognises the significant contribution that these producers make to the wider economy.
“We have been pressing UK Government to agree a need for a UK GI system post-Brexit from the outset and, while we welcome confirmation in their White Paper of the plans to do so, there remains a question over maintaining the existing protection currently enjoyed by our producers within the EU through the mutual recognition of our protected products.
“It is extremely alarming that the EU says this has not yet been resolved and that the failure of the UK Government to reach agreement on this issue is being cited as one of the obstacles to reaching an overall withdrawal agreement.
“The UK Government must make it clear it is not preparing to ditch vital geographical indications to facilitate a future trade deal with the US. It must rule out ‘no deal’ and reach an agreement that protects our world-class produce.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said negotiations on geographical indications are continuing.
A spokeswoman said: “GIs are very important to the UK, both culturally and economically, and that is why we will establish specific GI schemes to protect UK GIs in the future.
“This means favourites such as Scotch whisky, Scotch beef and lamb, Scottish wild salmon – and all other current UK GI protected products will continue to be safeguarded in the UK when we leave the EU.”