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European Commission - Press release

Cyprus ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ cheese set to receive Protected Designation of Origin status

Brussels, 28 July 2015

The European Commission published today the application to register the names ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’, in Greek and Turkish, as Protected Designations of Origin for a cheese produced in all the territory of the island of Cyprus. The publication is a key step in the process that would grant EU-wide protection for these names, and include them in the list of well-known high quality European products. Today, the Commission is also sending a letter confirming that Bureau Veritas, as an internationally accredited body, will be in a position to perform the official controls tasks referred to in the EU Regulation on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs.

In order to facilitate trade, the Commission has also adopted a proposal to modify the Green Line Regulation.

These are the necessary measures to apply the common understanding on a temporary solution for Halloumi/Hellim, to be implemented pending the reunification of Cyprus,reached under the guidance of President Juncker on 16 July 2015 in Nicosia.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "This step demonstrates the commitment of both communities of Cyprus to work together on projects unifying the whole island. I would like to commend and pay tribute to the two Leaders for their efforts that make possible this outcome. The common understanding reached around this application is highly symbolic and it confirms the willingness of the two parties to work together with the help of the Commission to build confidence with concrete measures. Halloumi/Hellim cheese symbolises the shared heritage of the island of Cyprus. It is a tradition which has linked the communities living here for centuries."

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "I am very pleased to see this application covering the whole of Cyprus go ahead. Following many months of negotiations, we are now well on our way to showing what can be achieved when people commit to concrete results. In particular, I want to acknowledge the role played by the Minister of Agriculture Mr Nicos Kouyialis, who has shown a huge personal commitment and given real leadership to getting to the point where we have been able to publish this application.  Geographical indications have demonstrated their potential for creating jobs and boosting farm income in rural areas throughout the EU, and I am confident that the successful registration of ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ will do the same in Cyprus."

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Creţu said: "The amendment to the Green Line Regulation will further facilitate trade and boost the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community; this is a task given to the Commission in order to support the reunification of Cyprus. We will further step up the necessary efforts and financial support to foster growth."

 

Background

On 17 July 2014, the Commission received the official application for the registration of the names ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for a cheese made predominantly from ewes' and/or goat milk under the Quality Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012. The application covers producers from the whole island and foresees the protection of the name in the two languages, Greek and Turkish.

This cheese is the most prominent product of Cyprus and of significant value for its economy. The Commission considers that the application fulfills the conditions of the Quality Regulation for registering the names ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ as PDO. The Commission has also followed up on concerns raised with respect to controls. EU rules require Cyprus to set up a control system making sure that only cheese produced in line with the specification uses the name ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’, once registered. Also, all qualified producers need to have access to the control system. The tasks of controlling the respect of the specification for ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’  have now been delegated to an accredited and independent control body which is recognised by the Commission as able to perform controls throughout the island, i.e. also in the northern part of Cyprus.

The publication of the application in the Official Journal of the EU will give three months to natural or legal persons not established or resident in Cyprus to raise objections to registration by sending a "notice of opposition", to be followed by a "reasoned statement of opposition" within a further two months.

Operators resident or established in Cyprus are not entitled to oppose the registration at EU level, since they already had the opportunity to do so in the framework of the national opposition procedure that preceded the submission of the application to the Commission.

Should admissible oppositions be submitted, the Commission will invite Cyprus and the opponents to engage in consultations for a period of not more than three months, which can be prolonged by up to an additional three months. If an agreement is reached, the Commission registers the name. If no agreement is reached, the Commission decides whether to register or not, taking into account the information at its disposal. 

The Green Line Regulation concerns the movement of goods and persons across the Green Line in Cyprus, and has been in force since the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU in 2004. The Commission reports annually to the Council on the implementation of the Regulation and the situation resulting from its application.

The Commission adopted today a proposal to amend Council Regulation (EC) No 866/2004 ("the Green Line Regulation") to establish the manner in which the control mechanism for goods covered by a name registered under Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 would be applied in the areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.

Through its Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community the European Commission has offered financial support for many years to farmers and dairy producers in Northern Cyprus, e.g. for the improvement of hygiene conditions, and continues doing so.

More information on the European Commission's programmes for the Turkish Cypriot community can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/turkish-cypriot-community/

 


Common understanding on a temporary solution for Halloumi/Hellim, to be implemented pending the reunification of Cyprus, reached under the guidance of President Juncker on 16 July 2015, Nicosia

1)         The internationally accredited body Bureau Veritas is appointed, in accordance with Article 39 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, as the body in charge of the control tasks provided for by this Regulation.

2)         The Commission will confirm in a letter that Bureau Veritas is the control body in charge to perform specific tasks related to official controls referred to in the previous point.

3)         The reports made by Bureau Veritas will be sent to the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus and to the Commission.

4)         A proposal to modify the Green Line Regulation, in order to facilitate trade, will be adopted by the Commission on the same day of the publication in the Official Journal of the formal application to get the registration of Halloumi/Hellim as a protected designation of origin on the basis of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012.

5)         As foreseen by the EU Treaties, the Commission will ensure the full respect of the relevant EU law.

IP/15/5448

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