Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-10-05-Speech-2-138"

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"Mr President, according to the information I have available to me, there are still differences of interpretation between South Africa and the European Union concerning the specific agreement on wines, particularly regarding the use of “Port” and “Sherry” as designations of origin. Following a meeting between both parties at the beginning of September, the European Union feels that the agreement lays down that South Africans cannot use the designations “Port” and “Sherry” after the specified period of twelve years, which means that they have to start thinking now about alternative names for the South African products in question. South Africa, on the other hand, interprets the agreement to mean that discussions to find new replacement names for the designations I have just referred to, on which agreement will have to be reached, only have to be started when those twelve years are up. If agreement is not reached on this matter, in its opinion, South Africa would continue to use the current names. Faced with such a situation, it is vital to avoid any interpretation which is less clear on the designations of origin “Port” and “Sherry”, which are in fact European geographical names which must be protected, and which cannot co-exist in any way with brands of wine from other places, which are allowed to use them with impunity. Above all, it is essential that, in line with the conclusions of the General Affairs Council of July, the specific agreement on wines should be concluded before the trade part of the agreement comes into force. That is due to happen in January. If this does not happen, the agreement’s entry into force should be delayed. What is in question here is not our political will to establish close cooperation with South Africa, a huge African country which is now a major trading partner of the European Union. What is in question is respect for a fundamental principle of our own long-term survival, that of the designations of origin of our authentic products which are protected, by the way, by the World Trade Organisation, under whose intellectual property laws they are covered. If the European Union is not capable of guaranteeing these principles, it will lose face completely in the negotiations which will be held shortly at the World Trade Organisation’s Millennium Round. I repeat that it is not the agreement itself which is in question, but whether it is possible to make this cooperation agreement compatible with respect for our own principles and with defending our interests."@en1

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