The Irish Whiskey Association represented the all-island geographical indication (GI) for Irish whiskey at an event in the European Parliament – in Strasbourg, France – on Tuesday, 17 October.
Invited to present to MEPs, together with representatives of French cognac and Italian Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Irish Whiskey Association director Eoin Ó Catháin stressed the benefits afforded to the sector due to its recognition as a geographical indication, or GI – designating its origin on the island of Ireland and ensuring the highest standard of quality for Irish whiskey.
The GI helps to protect the product from imitator or fake whiskeys and further creates market exclusivity, which protects jobs in Ireland and increases the value of this premium product.
Speaking in Strasbourg at the event on Tuesday, Ó Catháin emphasised the opportunities of free trade.
He said, “Ninety-five per cent [95%] of Irish whiskey is exported, with the value of these exports exceeding €1 billion in 2022. Irish whiskey manufacturers and exporters are operating in extremely competitive global markets, and every advantage and support is important in winning market share. Our GI designation plays an important role in this regard.
“All efforts must be made to continue to progress the trade agenda with established and emerging trade partners – and protect our GIs as part of these negotiations.
“Due to Irish whiskey’s unique status, spanning two jurisdictions, additional work is often needed in trade negotiations, particularly on rules of origin. The commitment of EU and UK negotiators in this regard was commended at the European Parliament event.”
The Irish Whiskey Association, along with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano and the Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (oriGIn), presented at a roundtable event organised by Arnaud Danjean MEP (EPP, France) and attended by several MEPs across political groupings.
The group noted that the protection and strengthening of the GI system will be among the key priorities for the Irish Whiskey Association ahead of the European elections, taking place in June 2024.