Food Law News - EU - 2006


Council Press Release (PRES/06/70), 20 March 2006

PROTECTED DESIGNATIONS Adoption of Regulations on Food stuffs Quality by the Council

The following is an extract from the report of the Council Meeting Agriculture and Fisheries

The Council adopted by qualified majority the two Regulations on the protection of geographical indications (GIs) and designations of origin (DOs) for agricultural products and foodstuffs and replacing Council Regulation (EEC) n°2081/92[5] and on agricultural products and foodstuffs as traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) and replacing Council Regulation (EEC) n°2082/92. The delegation of the Netherlands voted against. Statements of the Commission and of the Greek delegation were issued.

Both of these draft Regulations had been presented to the Council on 23 January 2006 . These two proposals were dealt with under the consultation procedure (Article 37 of the Treaty) and therefore the Opinion of the European Parliament is not legally binding. The European Parliament formally adopted its Opinion on both of these proposals on 16 March 2006 with minor changes, and many of the amendments went along with the changes agreed at technical level within the Council. According to the Commission representative, a number of items suggested by Parliament had been included in the Regulations, while others will be addressed in the context of the planned future policy review. These proposals do not have a financial impact on the Community budget.

The original Community legislative framework for organic production, TSG's, GI's and DO's was set up in the early nineties. In the meantime, following legislative changes, enlargement and in particular legal claims lodged by third countries ( Australia and the United-States) at the World Trade Organisation as well as technical problems when implementing these Regulations have showed the need for an overall change.

Since its presentation to the Council last January, the working party on foodstuffs quality has met several times and proceeded to an in-depth and intensive examination of the content of the proposal. A very large agreement - gathering nearly all the delegations -on the two proposals was reached at the Special Committee on Agriculture on 6 March, following several meetings under the auspices of the Austrian Presidency.

Most of the changes brought to the Commission proposals usually consist of coming back to the initial wording of EEC Regulation 2081/92 in the case of the definition of GIs and its criteria (Article 2 paragraph 1b), of the right of objection (Article 7) where any Member State or a third country (new provision) has the right to object to the registration 6 months after the publication of this registration to the Official Journal (instead of 4 months initially), or amending the deadlines proposed for the implementation by Member States of the provisions (no later than one year after the entry into force of the Regulation instead of no initial deadline), for the scrutiny period during which the Commission examines the application for registering a product (12 months instead of no initial deadline). The initial draft on compulsory Community symbols associated with GIs or Dos on the labelling of a product have also been replaced by an alternative choice between a Community symbol or the indication GIs/DOs and by the postponement of this provision in 2009 (rather than 2007). An additional paragraph (see Articles 9(4) and 11(3) in the two regulations) allowing for the possibility of a temporary derogation to the requirements under strict conditions following the imposition of obligatory sanitary or phytosanitary measures by the public authorities such as in the case of avian influenza. Finally the regulatory committee currently in charge of the management of this Regulation remains the sole committee, as the Commission initially proposed a management committee and a regulatory committee.

 

When comparing the two proposals on GI's-DO's and TSG's with Council Regulations (EEC) n°2082/92 and 2081/92, the main changes were:


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