The European Commission has adopted a regulation put forward by Mr FISCHLER, Commissioner for Agriculture and rural development, to register 16 names of agricultural and food products under the Council approved legislation for the Protection of Geographical Indications (PGI) and Designation of Origin (PD0). Those 16 products are added to the 382 indications already protected by two decisions in 1996.
This registration implies that the use of those registered names is to be confirmed to producers in a defined area who comply with closely defined rules and criteria for the production of these particular products.
When a food product becomes well-known outside its area of origin, it may find itself competing in the marketplace with imitation products making use of the same name. This unfair competition not only undermines the efforts made by the producer of manufacturer to acquire the good name in the first place, it leaves consumers confused as to which product is genuine and which is a copy. All the Member States have tried to protect such designations by various means (trademark protection, "appellations d'origine", through the legal system, recognition as customary usage, etc.).
In 1992, the European Union introduced legislation on geographical indications and designations of origin in an attempt to harmonize this protection at Community level in the case of all food products other than wines and spirit drinks -already covered by earlier Community legislation - in order to bring some clarity to the market and protect the interests of producers and consumers.
On 12 June 1996 and 1st July 1996, the Commission adopted an initial list of 318 and a second list of 64 products under the Regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin. Now, the Commission completed this list with another 16 products. The new list includes products mainly from Germany (7) and Greece (5) but also one from Austria, Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom. It covers, between others, meat-based products, cheeses and fruit and vegetables.