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Council Press Release, 9 April 2019
The Council today adopted new rules aimed at clarifying and improving the legal framework setting out the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks, including their use in other foodstuffs and the protection of geographical indications (GIs).
The regulation will guarantee a clearer labelling of spirit drinks such as Whisky, Brandy, Cognac, or Ouzo across the EU in line with the rules on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC regulation). Furthermore, it will ensure a certain level of harmonisation of the composition of these drinks at European level, for instance on the maximum level of sugar content.
Thanks to the new legislative framework, it will be easier for consumers to make informed choices and buy genuine products, as the new rules prohibit illicit allusion or references to spirit drinks and preserve more traditional production methods.
Moreover, the interests of producers will also be better safeguarded as the new regulation strengthens the protection of GIs against trademarks by granting 7 additional years of protection compared to the WTO agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.
The new regulation will enter into force 7 days after its publication on the Official Journal of the European Union. Apart from certain provisions on GIs, which will apply two weeks from the entry into force of the regulation, the bulk of the new rules will become applicable as of 2021.
The existing EU legal framework for spirit drinks (regulation 110/2008) was set up in 2008 with the aim of regulating the production and labelling of all spirit drinks produced in and imported to the EU. Another objective was to provide for specific rules for the registration and intellectual property protection of spirit drinks GIs, in compliance with WTO obligations.
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission proposed in December 2016 to adapt the existing rules to reflect the newly introduced distinction in secondary legislation between delegated and implementing acts and to improve the protection of GIs of spirit drinks, in line with developments in the management of GIs for foodstuffs and rules on wine set out in the Common Market Organisation regulation.
The text of the regulation is available here (but will be published in the Official Journal): http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-75-2018-INIT/en/pdf