Cheeses a sticking point for EU trade deal

Cheese names like feta and gorgonzola remain a sticking point EU-Australia trade deal negotiations.
Cheese names like feta and gorgonzola remain a sticking point EU-Australia trade deal negotiations.

Aussie-made feta and gorgonzola are among the cheeses leaving a sour taste in the mouth's of negotiators from the European Union who are working towards a free trade deal with Australia.

The EU delegation are in Melbourne to show producers the benefits of being able to access consumers in its 28 member countries - but certain cheese and liquor types are sticking points.

"We are looking at exclusivity of the Greek cheese (feta) and we nevertheless have to take into account the Australian market and producers," EU lead negotiator Lionel Mesnildrey told AAP on Thursday.

But he said while the use of the term feta and others remained under negotiation.

Other contentious items include the Italians claiming gorgonzola and the French claiming gruyere (which originated in Switzerland).

Liquors like ouzo and grappa are also undecided.

Producers still have until November 13 for submissions about why certain terms should be exempted from protected status.

The EU wants to have certain items covered by the geographic indicators (GI) to help producers in those regions.

There is a price premium given to GI products compared to a non-GI product, Mr Mesnildrey said.

"The price premium is more than twice, so there is more income that contributes to preserving jobs in rural areas (and) attracting new generation farmers, which is an issue in the EU," he said.

But while the term "Camembert de Normandie" is a particular trademark - the term camembert is not. Producers would still be able to use brie, salami, gouda, pecorino and cheddar.

A free-trade agreement may still be some time away but the new European Commission president Ursula von den Leyen has restated her dedication to the deal.

"We will seek to swiftly conclude ongoing negotiations with Australia," Ms von den Leyen said.

The EU has previously confirmed it will push ahead in its quest for prosecco to be protected, despite the sparkling wine not appearing on the list.

The UK's claims, which include scotch beef and lamb and blue stilton cheese, would be dropped from this agreement if Britain leaves the EU on October 31.

The fifth round of negotiations between the union and Australia will occur next month.

Australian Associated Press