– having regard to the draft Council decision (09737/2011),
– having regard to the Agreement between the European Union and Georgia on protection of geographical indications of agricultural products and foodstuffs (09738/2011),
– having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207(4), first subparagraph and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v) and Article 218(7), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7- 0202/2011),
– having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0450/2011),
1. Consents to conclusion of the Agreement;
2. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of Georgia.
The European Union (EU) and Georgia have concluded an agreement aiming at mutually protecting the geographical indications (GIs) covering a wide range of agricultural products such as cheeses, oils and fats, bread and pastry, fruit, vegetables, cereals, fresh meats and meat products, fresh fish and seafood, wines, spirits and beers.
This Agreement is a step taken by both partners as foreseen in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which entered into force on 1 July 1999. It has been made possible by the accession of Georgia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000. It has been described as a bilateral agreement for the protection of GIs which is the first of this kind with a partner from the European Neighbourhood.
Indeed, Georgia, as a Member of the WTO, has been a party to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) since its accession. So it recognizes the notion of GIs as place names used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products. Thereby, the EU and Georgia have had the possibility of building of this common understanding to establish an agreement that should foster trade in agricultural products and foodstuffs originating in the territories of both Georgia and the EU, while respecting the characteristics of quality and origin of products coming from both partners.
The Agreement is comprehensive and compatible with commitments taken under the TRIPS agreement. The parties agree on the criteria and procedures which condition the registration of a GI on their territory, since new GIs can be added if none of both parties object, and a Joint Committee consisting of representatives of both parties will be set up to monitor the Agreement's implementation and improve the terms of the bilateral cooperation in the field of GIs.
The Agreement presents specifics assets for both partners:
·On the EU side, this bilateral agreement should ensure that around 820 food GIs, 1,930 wines and 320 spirits (from 23 Member states) registered by the EU will be protected in Georgia, which is very reassuring for EU agricultural production through the respect of its characteristics and of its quality.
This Agreement can also be seen as a positive step for the wider EU-Georgia trade relations. Indeed the EU started in July 2010 negotiating with Georgia a bilateral Association Agreement, which should have a trade component, ie a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). Before entering into negotiations of a DCFTA, the European Commission expects a set of Key Recommendations (set as part of the Eastern Partnership and endorsed by the Council) to be fulfilled by Georgia to ensure that this Eastern Partner has the legal and institutional capacity to implement a DCFTA. This Agreement on GIs therefore establishes the capacity of Georgia to negotiate and conclude with the EU a substantial agreement on a key trade-related issue, including technical commitments.
·On the Georgian side, this country did not have any registered food GIs at the time of the negotiations at the time of the negotiations. Its only GIs regarded wines. Thus the Annexes of the Agreement, in which appears the list of EU and Georgian food products, wines and spirits, whose geographic indications must be protected respectively in Georgia and the EU, hold only 18 GIs for Georgia, all in wines.
The wine sector is particularly important as this activity gathers one of the oldest fields of expertise in Georgia. Usually destined for the Russian market, these wines are now manufactured by some EU groups which have invested in the Georgian wine and spirit industry. The recognition of Georgian GIs in wines will certainly affect positively the economy of that sector.
Besides, given that the Georgian agriculture is a typical subsistence sector, on which the livelihood of half of the Georgian population depends, every step to enhance export prospects of agricultural products is welcome, if it does not overburden local producers with unnecessary additional costs. The main export destinations of agricultural exports from Georgia remain the CIS (Community of Independent States) markets, above all Russia. But, over the last 10 years, an increasing amount of wine, hazelnuts and mineral water has been exported to the EU. Consequently, the share of the EU as an export market for Georgia's agricultural products has been multiplied by four, from 10% in 1997 to 40% in 2007, and this agreement should reinforce this trend.
For these reasons, your rapporteur recommends Parliament to give its consent to this agreement.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, Yannick Jadot, Metin Kazak, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Emilio Menéndez del Valle, Vital Moreira, Paul Murphy, Franck Proust, Helmut Scholz, Peter Šťastný, Robert Sturdy, Gianluca Susta, Keith Taylor, Iuliu Winkler, Pablo Zalba Bidegain
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
Josefa Andrés Barea, George Sabin Cutaş, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Elisabeth Köstinger, Marietje Schaake