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EuropeMEPs improve EU protection for quality agricultural products

MEPs improve EU protection for quality agricultural products

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Parliament has given its final green light to the reform of EU rules strengthening the protection of Geographical Indications for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products.

The regulation adopted today with 520 votes in favour, 19 against and 64 abstentions protects GIs offline and online, gives more powers to their producers and simplifies the registration process of GIs.

Protection online

During negotiations with member states, MEPs insisted national authorities will have to take administrative and judicial measures to prevent or stop the illegal use of GIs not only offline but also online. Domain names using GIs illegally will be shut down or access to them disabled via geo-blocking. A domain name alert system will be set by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Protection of GIs as ingredients

The new rules also define that a GI designating a product used as an ingredient may be used in the name, labelling or advertising of a related processed product only where the GI ingredient is used in sufficient quantities to confer an essential characteristic on the processed product, and no other product comparable to the GI is used. The percentage of the ingredient will have to be indicated on a label. A recognised producer group for the ingredient will have to be notified by producers of the processed product and may issue recommendations on the correct use of the GI.

More rights for GIs producers

Thanks to Parliament, the producers of GIs will be able to prevent or counter any measures or commercial practices which are detrimental to the image and value of their products, including devaluing marketing practices and lowering prices. To increase consumer transparency, MEPs also made sure that a producer name will appear in the same field of vision as the geographical indication on the packaging of all GIs.

Streamlined registration

The Commission will remain the sole scrutiniser of the GIs system, according to the updated regulation. The registration process of GIs will be simpler and a fixed deadline of six months will be set for scrutiny of new GIs.

Quote

Rapporteur Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said: “Thanks to Parliament, we now have a crucial regulation for our quality agrifood chains, strengthening the role of producer groups and the protection for Geographical Indications, increasing simplification, sustainability and transparency towards consumers. This is a better system, generating added value, without public funds. After the crises sparked by the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the surge in production prices, the new GIs Regulation finally is good news for European farmers.”

A press conference with the rapporteur and Norbert Lins (EPP, DE), the Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee is scheduled for Wednesday 28 February at 13.00 CEST at Daphne Caruana Galizia press conference room (WEISS N -1/201) in Strasbourg. More information is available this press release.

Next steps

Once the Council formally adopts the regulation, it will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.

Background

GIs are defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization as signs used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. GIs guarantee intellectual property rights and their legal protection.

The EU register of GIs contains almost 3,500 entries with sales value of almost EUR 80 billion. Products carrying a geographical indication often have a sales value around double that of similar products without certification. Examples of protected products are Parmigiano Reggiano, Champagne and Polish Vodka.

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