EP Press Release, 23 February 2010
Compulsory labelling of farm produce can ensure that consumers are fully informed on food quality and boost agricultural competitiveness, said the Agriculture Committee on Monday. Protecting EU geographical indications and traditional specialities from counterfeiting are also vital to promote and defend EU food high quality standards, it added.
Plans for an EU food quality policy to boost competitiveness and add value to the economies of Europe's regions are set out in a text by Giancarlo Scottà (EDF, IT), which forms part of Parliament's wider discussion on the future aims of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and responds to a Commission communication on EU quality policy.
Protecting geographical indications: more power to rights owners...
Agriculture Committee MEPs agreed on the need to keep the current system of geographical indications (GIs) in place, and in particular its two main tools: the protected designation of origin (PDO) and the protected geographical indication (PGI). To remedy shortcomings of this system, such as usurpation of GIs within and beyond the EU, the committee proposes amending existing legislation to give consortia of GI owners a role in managing PDO and PGI products.
...and WTO rules
A binding multilateral register of all GI products worldwide, to be agreed at the WTO (under TRIPS article 23), is essential to fight usurpation and counterfeiting, says the committee. MEPs also call on the Commission to provide GI bodies with financial and technical support to tackle these problems.
Make "place of farming" labelling compulsory
Agriculture Committee MEPs call for rules to introduce "place of farming" labelling for "primary products" such as vegetables and flowers, decided on a case by case basis. This should be done without creating any excessive costs and by investigating alternatives to traditional labelling, such as bar codes or web sites. Supplementary information should be made voluntary to avoid overloading labels and thus confusing consumers, says the approved text.
The Commission is also asked to study various options for introducing new information tools, including new EU quality and organic logos.
The Scottà report was approved in committee with 34 votes in favour, 4 against and 2 abstentions. It is currently scheduled for a plenary vote at the March I session in Strasbourg.