Denmark loses ‘feta war’ with EU

Denmark has lost a case at the European Court of Justice over its farmers exporting cheese outside the EU labelled feta, a protected designation of origin for Greek cheese.

Denmark has lost its fight with the EU over the sale of feta cheese.
Denmark has lost its fight with the EU over the sale of feta cheese. Pictured is a Greek salad. Photo by Loes Klinker on Unsplash

Feta has been a protected designation at European level since 2002 and in 2005 survived a challenge from Denmark and Germany. But Denmark continued to let its producers label their products feta when they exported outside the 27-nation bloc.

That prompted the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to turn, with Greek support, to the court.

“By failing to stop the use of the designation ‘feta’ for cheese intended for export to third countries, Denmark has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law,” the court said in its ruling.

It said Denmark should have stopped use of the designation and ordered it to comply quickly.

If Denmark doesn’t, the Commission can turn to the court again to seek financial damages. The court said, nevertheless, that Denmark had cooperated sincerely over the case.

In addition to being manufactured in Greece, cheese can only be labelled “feta” if it has been made in keeping with the traditional recipe and method. 

Greece says feta is part of its heritage because it has been making the cheese, made with both sheep and goat milk, for 6,000 years. Around 120,000 tonnes of feta are produced in Greece each year. 

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Danish Liberal party demands ‘high ambitions’ from Social Democrats

Liberal (Venstre) party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has said ambitions “above normal” should be aimed for in talks to form a government across the political centre.

Danish Liberal party demands ‘high ambitions’ from Social Democrats

On December 6th, ongoing negotiations to form a government will tie the all-time record for Denmark’s longest ever with the 35-day negotiation of 1975.

But the Liberal party is still holding out for more concessions from Frederiksen and the Social Democrats, its leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said after another major party on the right, the Conservatives, quit the talks over the weekend.

“The Liberals will continue negotiations with the Social Democrats in the coming days,” Ellemann-Jensen wrote on Twitter.

“If the Liberals are to commit to an agreement with the Social Democrats – whether in opposition or in government – the content of that agreement should be above the usual level of political ambition,” he said.

Ellemann-Jensen has cited to changes to the top tax bracket as a party priority, though that’s been a non-starter for the Social Democrats. 

The Liberals also hope to lower inheritance tax as well as income taxes for Denmark’s most modest earners, newswire Ritzau reports.

The withdrawal of the Conservatives means the Liberals are the only party on the right who could realistically enter government with the Social Democrats.

Six of the 12 parties elected to parliament at the election now remain in government talks with the Social Democrats.

These are the Liberals, Liberal Alliance and Danish People’s Party from the ‘blue bloc’ and the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) and Socialist People’s Party (SF), from the red bloc side. The centrist Moderates are the final party.

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket?