Food Law News - EU - 2006

Commission Press Release (IP/06/2), 4 January 2006

PROTECTED DESIGNATIONS - Commission proposes improved rules on agricultural quality products

For copies of the proposals (pdf format), see: COM/2005/0694 and COM/2005/0698

The European Commission has adopted two proposals to clarify and streamline rules for protected geographical indications (PGI), protected designations of origin (PDOs) and “traditional specialities guaranteed”. The draft regulations will ensure full compatibility with the findings of a recent WTO panel.

“The Commission intends to implement a more efficient and fully WTO-compatible registration procedure for special products of this type,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “The system is a cornerstone of the EU's quality policy and our drive to improve the protection of geographical indications internationally. I look forward to working with Council and Parliament in order to meet the WTO deadline of April 2006”.

Since the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, quality policy has been playing an increasingly prominent role. The number of regional and speciality products for which denominations are registered under EU quality schemes now stands at 720 and continues to grow.

In order to improve make the registration process more efficient, the Commission is proposing to simplify procedures and clarify the role of Member States. The centrepiece of these proposals is the definition of a well-defined “single document” for applications containing all the necessary information for registration, information and inspection purposes and which will be published. The proposals also seek to boost the image of the labels and the use of the EU logos with a view to increasing consumer recognition.

In a panel ruling issued in 2004, the WTO upheld the integrity of the EU's geographical indications system and rejected the majority of the claims made by the United States and Australia . These regulations will bring the scheme into conformity on the two areas that were criticised: firstly by formally deleting the requirement for “reciprocity and equivalence” from the regulations and secondly by allowing third country operators to submit applications and objections directly rather than through their governments. The deadline for implementing the ruling is set to expire in April 2006.

The proposals clarify the roles of Member States and streamlines procedures and will form a sound basis for the future development of the EU's Quality Policy.

More information on the EU quality policy is available on the internet at:

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