Beer, cider and perry producers from outside the European Union will be able to oppose the rights of EU brands to exclusive use of geographical indications, under reforms proposed by EU agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler.

If ministers agree, all citizens of World Trade Organisation member countries would have the right to oppose the inclusion of such terms as
Newcastle Brown Ale, Bayrisches Bier and Cidre de Normandie on a EU register. The register prevents foreign rivals marketing products in the EU under these names.

The idea, said Dr Fischler, was to generate acceptance of the list, (which excludes wine and spirits as they are protected under a different regime), around the world.

As a result, the Commission has proposed that bilateral deals are struck with other WTO members, where they agree to respect geographical indications on the EU list, in return for Brussels' recognition of its own protected traditional terms.

The Commission has also proposed that wine vinegars are included on its list, while mineral and spring waters are removed because of problem applications involving identical, invented or unsuitable names.