A World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes panel has told the European Union (EU) to open up its geographical indication protection system to include traditionally made drinks (and foodstuffs) from non-EU countries.

The system currently protects EU-made products such a Champagne and Bordeaux, insisting that they are made in their home regions by traditional methods. However, the panel said that, by excluding non-EU products from this system, such as Californian or South Australian wines, for instance, the EU was breaking WTO rules.

The case was brought by Australia and the US, who have been claiming victory, although they had sought a tougher ruling which would have undermined the overall legality of the EU's geographical indication protection of European drinks products. In this they were disappointed, prompting European Commission claims it had won. Brussels claims it has never received an application from non-EU producers for such protection.