Food Law News - EU - 2002

Commission Press Release (IP/02/422), 15 March 2002

LABELLING - Food quality: Commission proposes better protection for geographical names

"Prosciutto di Parma, "Roquefort" cheese or "Bayrisches Bier" are unique quality products because of the place they come from and the traditional way they are produced. The European Commission has now presented a proposal to improve protection for geographical indications and designations of origin for these agricultural products and foodstuffs. By giving all WTO members the right to object to registration of these geographical names, the proposal would improve the recognition on international markets. The Commission further proposes to add wine vinegar to and withdraw mineral water from the list of products eligible for protection. Welcoming the proposal, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development said "The EU produces a range of high-quality and speciality foodstuffs. Better protecting their geographical indication from pirating or unfair competition will not only help to better inform consumers world-wide. It will also encourage producers, who can be safe in the knowledge that their produce receives its legitimate world-wide recognition."

In line with the Commission's objective to improve recognition of intellectual property rights, the proposal aims at full implementation of the TRIPS agreement(1) and improve protection for geographical indications. To comply with the Commission's obligations as set out in the TRIPS Agreement, the following amendments to Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 are proposed:

In addition, some further adaptations are proposed:

This proposal has to be adopted with qualified majority in the Agriculture Council, following the opinion of the European Parliament.


"Queso Manchego", "Prosciutto di Parma", "Roquefort" …., labelling products as unique because of the place they come from and the way they are made gives them special added value. However, when a product acquires a reputation beyond national borders it can find itself in competition with products which pass themselves off as the genuine article and use the same name. This unfair competition not only discourages producers, but also misleads consumers. That is why the European Union has created registration systems to promote and protect food products, and where Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 applies.

The purpose of the Regulation is to protect geographical names used for products meeting certain very precisely defined requirements. It provides a harmonised Community-level system protecting rights in the domain of intellectual property law and falls within the ambit of the TRIPS Agreement (1994), notably the section on protection of geographical indications.

At present, the names of about 570 cheese, meat, fruit, vegetable and other products are registered as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed).


The full list of protected names can be found on the Internet at:

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