Procedure : 2005/0275(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0034/2006

Texts tabled :

A6-0034/2006

Debates :

PV 15/03/2006 - 14
CRE 15/03/2006 - 14

Votes :

PV 16/03/2006 - 9.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0095

REPORT     *
23.2.2006
PE 367.688v02-00 A6-0034/2006

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs

(COM(2005)0698 – C6‑0027/2006 – 2005/0275(CNS))

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Rapporteur: Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf

ERRATA/ADDENDA
DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs

(COM(2005)0698 – C6‑0027/2006 – 2005/0275(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2005)0698)(1),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6‑0027/2006),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6‑0034/2006),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.  Calls on the Council, as a first step, to make only those amendments to Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 which are necessary in the light of the ruling of the World Trade Organisation, and to debate without pressure of time those elements of the Commission proposal which are more far-reaching;

4.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

6.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Recital 3

(3) Some consumers tend to attach greater importance to the quality of foodstuffs in their diet rather than to quantity. This quest for specific products generates a demand for agricultural products or foodstuffs with an identifiable geographical origin.

(3) A constantly increasing number of consumers attach greater importance to the quality of foodstuffs in their diet rather than to quantity. This quest for specific products generates a demand for agricultural products or foodstuffs with an identifiable geographical origin.

Justification

Recent years have shown that a constantly increasing number of consumers opt to buy products of designated origin and geographical indication because they appreciate the quality.

Amendment 2
Recital 5

(5) The labelling of agricultural products and foodstuffs is subject to the general rules laid down in Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs. In view of their specific nature, additional special provisions should be adopted for agricultural products and foodstuffs from a specified geographical area. The use of the indications and Community symbols concerned should also be made obligatory in the case of Community designations, on the one hand, to make this category of products and the guarantees attached to them better known to consumers and, on the other, to permit easier identification of these products on the market so as to facilitate checks. A reasonable length of time should be allowed for operators to adjust to this obligation.

(5) The labelling of agricultural products and foodstuffs is subject to the general rules laid down in Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs. In view of their specific nature, additional special provisions should be adopted for agricultural products and foodstuffs from a specified geographical area. The use of the indications and Community symbols concerned should also be made obligatory in the case of Community designations, on the one hand, to make this category of products and the guarantees attached to them better known to consumers and, on the other, to permit easier identification of these products on the market so as to facilitate checks. For such purposes and as a result of that obligation, the Community symbols associated with the various indications should be properly differentiated from each other, so as to ensure that there is a clear link between each indication and its specific symbol. A reasonable length of time should be allowed for operators to adjust to this obligation.

Amendment 3
Recital 5 a (new)

(5a) With regard to the extension of the scope of this Regulation to cover products from third countries and with a view to ensuring that there is no confusion in consumers’ minds between the Community symbol and the origin of a product, the places of origin and processing of agricultural products or foodstuffs marketed under a registered name should be indicated on the label.

Amendment 4
Recital 6a (new)

(6a) The strengthening of the Community policy on designations of origin and geographical indications requires, additionally to the clarification and simplification referred to in this Regulation, the negotiation of a multilateral register under WTO auspices, with the objective of ensuring the durability of the policy.

Amendment 5

Recital 12

(12) The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement 1994, contained in Annex 1C to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation) contains detailed provisions on the existence, acquisition, scope, maintenance and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

(12) The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement 1994, contained in Annex 1C to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation) contains detailed provisions on the existence, acquisition, scope, maintenance and enforcement of intellectual property rights. For the European Union, the importance of the protection of intellectual property in world trade is constantly increasing. Geographical indications and designations of origin play a special role in this connection.

Justification

Intellectual property is the last remaining commodity which the Europeans have. It must be adequately protected.

Amendment 6
Recital 13

(13) The protection afforded by this Regulation, subject to registration, should be open to the geographical indications of third countries where these are protected in their country of origin.

(13) The protection afforded by this Regulation, subject to registration, should be open to the geographical indications of third countries where these are protected in their country of origin. At the same time, the Commission should endeavour to obtain recognition by third countries of Community products of designated origin and geographical indication. There is a need for information and promotional activities inside and outside the EU to inform the consuming public.

Justification

It is important for the Commission to take coordinated and methodical action to achieve mutually acceptable designations of origin and geographical indication between the EU and third countries.

Amendment 7
Article 2, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a), introduction

(a) ‘designation of origin’ means the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe an agricultural product or a foodstuff

(a) ‘designation of origin’ means the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe and/or identify an agricultural product or a foodstuff

Justification

It would be wiser to use the two terms ‘identify’ and ‘describe’ in the definitions of PDOs and PGIs.

For example:

- in the case of the Roquefort PDO, the geographical term in practice replaces the actual name of the foodstuff - hence the geographical term ‘describes’ the product,

- in the case of the Huile de Nyons PDO, the geographical term is used only when accompanied by the name of the foodstuff - hence the geographical term ‘identifies’ the product.

Amendment 8
Article 2, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a), indent 3

- the production, processing and preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area;

- the production, processing, preparation and (where appropriate) packaging of which take place in the defined geographical area;

Justification

Certain producers have decided of their own accord to make it compulsory for their products to be packaged in the area in which they are produced, in order to facilitate checks and to offer consumers a comprehensive guarantee regarding the origin and the quality of a given product.

Packaging is an important aspect of production, which may adversely affect the product if it is not carried out correctly. It constitutes a stage in the processing of a product which has its own requirements and calls for genuine know-how.

The packaging of products in production regions also enables the risk of fraud to be reduced, thanks to the stringent checks carried out on the packaged products. Such checks are consumers’ best guarantee of product quality and traceability.

Last but not least, the requirement for local packaging would enable people affected by the recognition of indications to remain on their land. This would offer a clear economic advantage on account of (in particular) the obvious added value.

Amendment 9
Article 2, paragraph 1, subparagraph (b), introduction

(b) ‘geographical indication’ means an indication serving to identify an agricultural product or a foodstuff

(b) ‘geographical indication’ means an indication or the name of a region, of a specific place or of a country serving to describe and/or identify an agricultural product or a foodstuff

Justification

PGIs are recognised where one or more of the operations is performed in the defined area. The new wording proposed by the Commission may be subject to interpretation in a legal debate.

Amendment 10
Article 2, paragraph 1, subparagraph (b), indent 1

- as originating in a region, specific place or country,

- as originating in a region, specific place or (in exceptional cases) country,

Justification

PGIs should be defined using the same wording as for PDOs in order to prevent the emergence of PGIs relating to a single country, which could subsequently be regarded as a form of protectionism on the part of the country concerned.

Amendment 11
Article 2, paragraph 2

2. Traditional geographical or non-geographical names designating an agricultural product or a foodstuff originating in a region or a specific place which fulfil the conditions referred to in the second and third intents of paragraph 1(a) shall also be considered as designations of origin.

2. Traditional geographical or non-geographical names designating an agricultural product or a foodstuff originating in a region or a specific place which fulfil the conditions referred to in the second and third intents of paragraph 1(a) shall also be considered as designations of origin or geographical indications.

Justification

It is proposed that PGIs should be incorporated into this paragraph, since it is important that products which do not qualify for PDO status should be eligible for PGI status if they match the definition laid down in paragraph 1(b). This can only contribute to securing recognition of the PDO/PGI scheme in connection with the WTO negotiations.

Amendment 12
Article 2, paragraph 3, introductory part

3. Notwithstanding paragraph 1(a), certain geographical designations shall be treated as designations of origin where the raw materials for the products concerned come from a geographical area larger than or different from the processing area, provided that:

3. Notwithstanding paragraph 1(a) and (b), certain geographical designations shall be treated as designations of origin or geographical indications where the raw materials for the products concerned come from a geographical area larger than or different from the processing area, provided that:

Justification

It is proposed that PGIs should be incorporated into this paragraph, since it is important that products which do not qualify for PDO status should be eligible for PGI status if they match the definition laid down in paragraph 1(b). This can only contribute to securing recognition of the PDO/PGI scheme in connection with the WTO negotiations.

Furthermore, many products made from meat-based raw materials have a PGI under which the area in which the finished product is made differs from the area in which the animals are reared.

Amendment 13
Article 2, paragraph 3, point (c a) (new)

(ca) the beneficiary of the derogation indicates the origin of the raw materials on the label or the packaging.

Amendment 14
Article 2, paragraph 3, second subparagraph

The designations in question must have been recognised as designations of origin in the country of origin before 1 May 2004.

Deleted

Amendment 15
Article 4, paragraph 2, subparagraph (b)

(b) a description of the agricultural product or foodstuff, including the raw materials, if appropriate, and principal physical, chemical, microbiological and organoleptic characteristics of the product or the foodstuff;

(b) a description of the agricultural product or foodstuff, including the raw materials, if appropriate, and principal physical, chemical, microbiological and/or organoleptic characteristics of the product or the foodstuff;

Justification

Attention should be paid to monitoring the organoleptic characteristics in accordance with the specification.

Furthermore, this does not conform to the definition of PGIs as laid down in Article 2(1)(b), which stipulates ‘a specific quality, reputation or other characteristic.’ The reputation of a product does not necessarily involve specific and definable organoleptic characteristics.

Amendment 16
Article 4, paragraph 2, subparagraph (h)

(h) any specific labelling rule for the agricultural product or foodstuff in question;

(h) any specific labelling rule for the agricultural product or foodstuff in question and - where appropriate - the terms and conditions for using protected geographical terms on the labelling of prepared products in order to indicate PDO or PGI products used as ingredients;

Justification

This consolidates the use of PDO/PGI products as ingredients.

Amendment 17
Article 4, paragraph 2, subparagraph (ha) (new)

(ha) where appropriate, the rightholder’s decision to have certain packaging operations carried out solely in the production area in order to guarantee the details which justify the link mentioned in subparagraph (f);

Justification

Certain producers have decided of their own accord to make it compulsory for their products to be packaged in the area in which they are produced, in order to facilitate checks and to offer consumers a comprehensive guarantee regarding the origin and the quality of a given product.

Packaging is an important aspect of production, which may adversely affect the product if it is not carried out correctly. It constitutes a stage in the processing of a product which has its own requirements and calls for genuine know-how.

The requirement for local packaging would enable people affected by the recognition of indications to remain on their land. This would offer a clear economic advantage on account of (in particular) the obvious added value.

The packaging of products in production regions also enables the risk of fraud to be reduced, thanks to the stringent checks carried out on the packaged products. Such checks are consumers’ best guarantee of product quality and traceability.

Amendment 18
Article 5, paragraph 3, point (c) (ii)

(ii) a concise description of the link between the product and the geographical environment or geographical origin referred to in Article 2(1)(a) or (b), as the case may be, including, where appropriate, the specific elements of the product description or production method justifying the link.

(ii) a concise description of the link between the product and the geographical environment or geographical origin referred to in Article 2(1)(a) or (b), as the case may be, including factors relating to the natural environment, sociocultural factors and, where appropriate, the specific elements of the product description or production method justifying the link.

Justification

The particular way in which a foodstuff of specific quality is linked to factors in the natural environment and the sociocultural tradition within which the foodstuff is produced are the sources of the qualitative distinction between PGI and PDO on the one hand and brands on the other.

Amendment 19
Article 5, paragraph 4, subparagraph 2

The Member State shall scrutinize the application by appropriate means to check that it is justified and meets the conditions of this Regulation.

The Member State shall immediately scrutinize the application by appropriate means to check that it is justified and meets the conditions of this Regulation.

Justification

It is vital from the point of view of all parties concerned that Member States should consider registration applications without delay.

Amendment 20
Article 5, paragraph 5, subparagraph 1

5. As part of the scrutiny referred to in paragraph 4, the Member State shall initiate an objection procedure at national level, ensuring adequate publication of the application allowing a reasonable period within which any person having a legitimate interest and established or resident on its territory may declare their objection to the application.

5. As part of the scrutiny referred to in paragraph 4, the Member State shall initiate an objection procedure at national level, ensuring adequate publication of the application allowing a period of six months within which any person having a legitimate interest and established or resident on its territory may declare their objection to the application.

Justification

The period within which an objection may be lodged should be clearly defined in order to avoid unnecessary delay for the applicant.

Amendment 21
Article 5, paragraph 7, point (a a) (new)

(aa) the product specification referred to in Article 4;

Justification

Given that Community recognition is involved, the product specification should be examined by the Commission. Were this not to be the case, there could be a lack of uniformity in the recognition of PDOs and PGIs. The summary document alone would not give the Commission a sufficiently clear picture of the application and would thus not enable it make a full and proper assessment.

Amendment 22
Article 5, paragraph 9, subparagraph 1

9. Where the registration application concerns a geographical area situated in a third country, it shall comprise the elements provided for in paragraph 3 and also proof that the name in question is protected in its country of origin.

 

9. Where the registration application concerns a geographical area situated in a third country, it shall comprise the elements provided for in paragraph 3 and also proof that the name in question is protected in its country of origin. If certain elements prove to be inadequate, the Commission shall be entitled to insist that the applicant from the third country provide all relevant additional information (including a copy of the specification).

Justification

The Commission must have at its disposal a copy of the specification, so that it can check that the details entered on the single document correspond exactly to the contents of the original specification.

It is, after all, the Commission’s job to ensure that the European geographical-indication scheme is credible and hence to ensure that registration applications submitted by the Member States are viable.

Amendment 23
Article 6, paragraph 1

1. The Commission shall scrutinize the application in an appropriate manner to check that it is justified and meets the conditions of this Regulation.

1. Within six months, the Commission shall scrutinize the application in an appropriate manner to check that it is justified and meets the conditions of this Regulation.

Justification

The formulation in the Commission proposal fails to include the deadline of six months which has applied hitherto. The amendment corrects this technical detail.

Amendment 24
Article 6, paragraph 2, subparagraph 1

2. Where the conditions laid down in this Regulation appear to be met, the Commission shall publish in the Official Journal of the European Union the single document and the reference to the publication of the specification referred to in the fifth subparagraph of Article 5(5).

2. Where the conditions laid down in this Regulation appear to be met and no later than 6 months after receipt of the application referred to in Article 5(7), the Commission shall publish in the Official Journal of the European Union the single document and the reference to the publication of the specification referred to in the fifth subparagraph of Article 5(5).

Justification

Applications should be considered within a clearly defined time limit in order to avoid unnecessary delays. For this reason, the six-month time limit, which was stated in Regulation No 2081/92, should be retained.

Amendment 25

Article 7, paragraph 4, subparagraph 2

The registration shall be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The registration shall be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and on the Internet, including a publication reference for the specification referred to in Article 5(5). If the application for registration relates to a geographical area in a third country, the Commission shall publish the specification pursuant to Article 5(5).

Justification

The specification must be published in electronic form, including in the case of names of products from third countries. Furthermore, it should be easily accessible to operators.

Amendment 26

Article 7, paragraph 6

6. The Commission shall maintain updated a register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications.

6. The Commission shall maintain updated a register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications and publish it on the Internet.

Justification

The register should be easily accessible to consumers and producers.

Amendment 27

Article 8, paragraph 2 a (new)

The Community symbols shall be distinguished by means of colour codes specific to each symbol.

Justification

The European Community has created logos for PDOs, PGIs and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSGs). The logos are identical in shape and colour and their only distinguishing feature is the inclusion on the logo of the words ‘protected designation of origin’, protected geographical indication’ or ‘traditional speciality guaranteed’, which are written in small and frequently illegible characters.

In view of the fact that each of the three denominations has specific characteristics, each of them should be distinguished by means of a specific colour code. This would provide clearer information for consumers.

Amendment 28
Article 8, paragraph 3 a (new)

The places of origin and processing of each agricultural product or foodstuff marketed under a name registered in accordance with this Regulation shall be clearly and visibly indicated on the label.

Justification

Under the proposal, the indications, abbreviations and logos may also be used on labels of products from third countries. In order to protect consumers, it should be compulsory for the label to include details of the place of origin and processing of the products, so as to avoid any confusion between the Community logo and the origin of the product. This obligation is already provided for in Article 12(2), subparagraph 2 of Regulation 2081/92.

Amendment 29
Article 10, paragraph 3

3. In accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 the Member States shall designate a competent central body specifically responsible for implementing the control system relating to this Regulation.

3. In accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 the Member States shall designate an official body responsible for monitoring compliance with Community rules on geographical indication.

Justification

Pursuant to current legislation, the provisions laid down in Regulation 882/2004 apply to all foodstuffs on EU territory. This obviously applies to operators covered by Regulation 2081/92, any mention of which is superfluous.

On the other hand, it is often very difficult these days for rightholders to know to which authority they should apply in order to put a stop to unfair practices in a Member State other than their own. Hence it would be a good idea to establish a network of monitoring bodies which would uphold EU rules in order to ensure that the geographical-indication protection scheme works consistently and effectively throughout the EU.

Amendment 30
Article 10, paragraph 3 a (new)

 

3a. Rightholders may lodge complaints with their Member State’s monitoring body and ask it to intervene in order to protect their registered name.

Justification

Pursuant to current legislation, the provisions laid down in Regulation 882/2004 apply to all foodstuffs on EU territory. This obviously applies to operators covered by Regulation 2081/92, any mention of which is superfluous.

On the other hand, it is often very difficult these days for rightholders to know to which authority they should apply in order to put a stop to unfair practices in a Member State other than their own. Hence it would be a good idea to establish a network of monitoring bodies which would uphold EU rules in order to ensure that the geographical-indication protection scheme works consistently and effectively throughout the EU.

Amendment 31
Article 10, paragraph 3 b (new)

 

3b. A list of the monitoring bodies shall be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and shall be regularly updated.

Justification

Pursuant to current legislation, the provisions laid down in Regulation 882/2004 apply to all foodstuffs on EU territory. This obviously applies to operators covered by Regulation 2081/92, any mention of which is superfluous.

On the other hand, it is often very difficult these days for rightholders to know to which authority they should apply in order to put a stop to unfair practices in a Member State other than their own. Hence it would be a good idea to establish a network of monitoring bodies which would uphold EU rules in order to ensure that the geographical-indication protection scheme works consistently and effectively throughout the EU.

Amendment 32
Article 11, paragraph 6

6. The costs of the controls referred to in this Article shall be borne by the operators subject to those controls.

6. The costs of the controls referred to in this Article may be borne by the operators subject to those controls.

Justification

The inspection bodies may vary in nature, in accordance with what is decided in each Member State (they may be public, semi-public or private), and they will accordingly have different means of obtaining resources and funding. It is therefore not for the Regulation to lay down how the costs concerned are to be borne.

Amendment 33
Article 12, paragraph 2, subparagraph 1 a (new)

 

The interested parties within the Member State concerned shall be consulted in respect of any application for cancellation.

Justification

In view of the effects of cancelling a PGI or PDO registration and in view of the value which a name may have not only for the producer group but also for the region concerned, a procedure enabling the interested parties to express their point of view should be set up.

Amendment 34
Article 13, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a)

(a) any direct or indirect commercial use of a registered name in respect of products not covered by the registration insofar as those products are comparable to the products registered under that name or insofar as using the name exploits the reputation of the protected name;

 

(a) any direct or indirect commercial use (in particular on any type of product labelling and packaging - in whole or in part - and in any form) of a registered name in respect of products not covered by the registration insofar as those products are comparable to the products registered under that name or insofar as using the name exploits the reputation of the protected name;

Justification

Attention should be paid to the use of names in addresses (for example, a street name altered in order to enable a name to be usurped).

Amendment 35
Article 13, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a) a (new)

(aa) commercial use of a registered name for foodstuffs without the prior agreement of the rightholder;

Justification

The names of registered geographical indications are often used in the names under which culinary specialities or preparations are sold, even though the proportion of GI product in the final product is often very small, if not to say non-existent. This damages the reputations of protected names and is misleading to consumers.

In order to ensure that a reference to a PGI or PDO ingredient is not misused in a name under which a product is sold, the holders of a geographical indication should be entitled to check on the use of the name in question. Where appropriate, holders may insist that the PGI or PDO name be used only in the list of ingredients.

Amendment 36
Article 13, paragraph 1, subparagraph 1 a (new)

 

If a processed product contains an agricultural product or foodstuff which has been registered under this Regulation, the use of the relevant expression in the labelling of the processed product must be subject to the appropriate authorisation from the group that has obtained recognition.

Justification

The use of the expression for processed products should be subject to authorisation from the group that obtained recognition.

Amendment 37
Article 13, paragraph 1 a (new)

1a. Where a PGI or a PDO exists in respect of agricultural products or foodstuffs, different geographical terms included within the protected geographical area may not be used on similar products which are not covered by that PGI or PDO.

Justification

This approach will prevent indirect means from being used in order to enable products to enjoy the benefits of a registered name through the use of a geographical indication in connection with a simple indication of origin and without recourse to monitoring schemes designed to ensure that consumers receive accurate information. For example, in the case of the ‘pruneau d’Agen’ PGI, terms such as ‘Périgord’, ‘Gers’ and ‘Lectoure’ may not be used other than in connection with prunes covered by the ‘pruneau d’Agen’ PGI.

Amendment 38
Annex I, indents 6 a, 6 b and 6 c (new)

– wine vinegar,
– currant vinegar,

– wine made from berries or fermented berry-based beverages, in addition to cider and perry,

salt, traditional sea salt and hand-harvested sea salt ("fleur de sel"),

– spices,

herbal mixtures.

Justification

The exploitation of an identifiable label by an intermediary may act as a genuine lever of social and economic development for the regions concerned, particularly in the case of disadvantaged regions where promotion and exploitation by means of a label constitute an important means of social and economic development.

Spices and special methods of producing salt should be covered by Annex I, as they may be of high culinary and economic value.

Amendment 39
Annex II, indent 7

- wicker

- wicker and wicker goods

Justification

Given that one cannot really talk about wicker being marketed in its original state, the term ‘wicker goods’ should been added to Annex II.

(1)

Not yet published in OJ.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

1. Background to the Commission proposal

The European Union grants producers of ‘regional specialities’ special protection, under Regulations (EEC) No 2081/92 and 2082/92. The voluntary arrangements give producers the possibility of registering under a Community system providing legally binding protection for special agricultural products and foodstuffs with a name indicating the origin of the product.

In order to be eligible to carry the protected designation of origin (PDO), products must be produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using a recognised, specified method.

In the case of the protected geographical indication (PGI), there is a link between at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation and the region of origin. The product may also have a particularly good reputation.

The traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG), which is covered by Regulation 2082/92, does not refer to the geographical origin but highlights the traditional composition of the product or a traditional method of preparation and/or processing.

The issue of protection of geographical indications has for many years been a bone of contention with the EU’s international trading partners in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Following the conclusion of the TRIPS Agreement, EU legislation was revised in order to allow third countries equal access to the European system (under certain conditions)(1).

However, complaints were lodged with the WTO Dispute Settlement Body by the United States and Australia, who sought to have European Regulation No 2081/92 declared incompatible with international trade agreements such as the TRIPS Agreement(2).

In April 2005 the WTO Dispute Settlement Body adopted two panel reports, which concluded that, on the majority of the points criticised, the EU regulation was not inconsistent with WTO obligations. However, the EU was required to improve access by third country nationals to the EU system and to place those nationals on an equal footing with EU citizens, particularly with regard to the application procedure and the right to object. The relevant adjustments to the EU regulation have to be made by 20 April 2006, and they form an important part of this legislative proposal.

2. Substance of the Commission proposal: changes in relation to Regulation 2081/92

The provisions introduced by Regulation (EC) No 692/2003 relating to the rules governing third country access, and the principles of equivalent standards, reciprocity and comparable checks enshrined in it, are removed from the current proposal and replaced by a simplified procedure. A third country may submit a request for registration to the Commission, provided that the geographical indication or designation of origin is also protected in the third country in question. The rules on checks are also more flexible.

In addition, the Commission seeks to clarify the division of responsibilities between the Commission and the Member States in connection with the approval procedure, with Member States responsible for examining the sometimes voluminous application documentation and only a final check and consultation with other Member States being carried out at the European level. Member States will also be allowed to levy a charge.

Use of the Community logo for PGIs and PDOs, which to date has been voluntary, is to be made compulsory, as is the use of the appropriate indication (‘protected geographical indication’ or ‘protected designation of origin’) or abbreviation (‘PGI’ or ‘PDO’).

The time limit within which other Member States may lodge objections is to be reduced from six to four months (Article 7). In addition, the commitology provisions are being amended, and in future both the management committee and regulatory committee procedures will apply (Article 15).

3. Rapporteur’s position/reasons for amendments

Protected geographical indications and geographical designations of origin contribute in a very important way to adding value to production in rural areas of Europe. The reputation which these products enjoy among European consumers allows their producers access to higher‑priced markets. In France and Italy alone, the market value of products protected in this way is estimated at over €10 billion. In seven Member States(3), the added value achieved by geographical indications is estimated at around €5.2 billion a year, with a corresponding impact on job creation and retention in rural areas.

Furthermore, geographical indications are a key issue in the fundamental debate being held about applying conditions on standards to trade in agricultural products and foodstuffs within the context of the WTO. It is significant that the United States and Australia have made such a strong attack on PGIs, despite the fact that no requests to participate in the European system of protected geographical indications have to date been received from those countries. It is, rather, for them a question of principle: trademarks should be protected under the TRIPS Agreement, and the countries concerned wish to see geographical indications apply only exceptionally to certain wines and spirits.

The EU must use all its clout and diplomatic skill to defend geographical indications, initially in the forthcoming negotiations on the implementation of the Hong Kong decisions. Geographical indications are an excellent way of achieving the application of conditions on standards to international trade. The decision by the Dispute Settlement Body to reject the basis of the attacks by the United States and Australia is therefore of inestimable importance.

However, even following this decision by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, which is a clearly favourable one for the EU, the argument about the protection of registered trademarks vis-à-vis geographical quality indications will continue to be hotly debated in the negotiations within the framework of the Doha Agenda. To date, a decision has not even been taken on the multilateral register of geographical designations of origin for wines and alcoholic beverages provided for in the TRIPS Agreement, although negotiations have been going on since 1997. The extension of the register to include foodstuffs and other agricultural products(4) should be central to the EU’s negotiating position. However, at present, in the face of major disputes over reductions in customs duties and export subsidies, services and industrial products, there is no sign of geographical indications becoming permanently rooted within the WTO framework.

On the contrary, the European system of protected geographical indications is repeatedly being disregarded by individual operators in the food industry:

· Kraft Foods produces ‘Parmesan’ in the USA, which matures for only six months (as against at least 12 months in the EU);

· cognac, sherry, port and champagne have, in the United States’ view, become generic names and should not therefore be protected names with special quality standards.

However, even within the EU the quality requirements for protected geographical indications are again and again a subject of discussion. For example, the standards for the preparation of Parma ham have been amended so as to make it no longer permissible to process products of imported Netherlands or Belgian pigs. Nevertheless, the media repeatedly report that production of Parma ham exceeds the capacity of the regional, and even of the Italian, pig population. In some Member States, checks on compliance with the specific standards laid down by producers when registering products (the ‘specification’) are not being carried out or are inadequate.

In your rapporteur’s view, it is imperative that the quality standards for products protected under this regulation are properly complied with and monitored. Above all, on the contentious issue of the purchase of raw materials, the rules must be sufficiently strict as to ensure that no doubt can be cast on the credibility of quality indications. If the European Union does not take the initiative in introducing stricter standards, we shall be in a very difficult negotiating position in the forthcoming debate within the WTO.

In addition, your rapporteur has reservations about the proposal by the Commission to shift responsibility for examining applications submitted onto the Member States. Although the previous arrangements also provided for prior examination of documents by the competent authorities in the Member States, it should be made clear that the decision on registration must be made at the Community level. Reference should therefore be made not to ‘national’, but only to ‘provisional’ recognition.

Undeniably, given that there are currently around 300 applications which are still being processed, the Commission services are faced with a very considerable task. However, in place of the proposal to shift the burden onto the authorities in the Member States, which runs the risk of renationalisation, consideration should be given to whether a European agency should not be given the task of examining and registering requests for geographical indications and designations of origin. This debate is already taking place among experts, and your rapporteur is of the view - despite all of the problems associated with existing European agencies - that this legislative proposal should address this issue, instead of looking for a supposedly simple solution in the form of nationalisation, which from a longer-term perspective could leave the European system of geographical indications very open to attack.

(1)

Council Regulation (EC) No 692/2003, 8.4.2003; EP report A5-375/2002 (JM Fruteau)

(2)

The main criticisms made were that other WTO members were not given equal treatment, i.e. that there was preferential treatment of EU Member States; that there was less protection of trademarks; that trading partners did not enjoy the same right to object against geographical indications being abused or used in a way which distorted competition; and that there was a lack of transparency in the EU system. A number of infringements of the TRIPS Agreement, Articles 1 and 3 of the GATT, Article 2 of the TBT and Article 56(4) of the WTO Agreement were claimed.

(3)

Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom. The figures given are based on oriGIn statistics (www.origin-gi.com) and exclude the wine and spirits sector.

(4)

As called for by several WTO members, not just the EU, in December 2004 (see WT/GC/W/540)


PROCEDURE

Title

Proposal for a Council regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs

References

COM(2005)0698 – C6‑0027/2006 – 2005/0275(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

24.1.2006

Committee responsible
  Date announced in plenary

AGRI
1.2.2006

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

INTA
1.2.2006

IMCO
1.2.2006

ENVI
1.2.2006

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

INTA
25.1.2006

IMCO
30.1.2006

ENVI
30.1.2006

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf
23.11.2005

 

Discussed in committee

25.1.2006

21.2.2006

 

 

 

Date adopted

21.2.2006

Result of final vote

+: 38

–:

0:

 

Members present for the final vote

Marie-Hélène Aubert, Peter Baco, Katerina Batzeli, Thijs Berman, Niels Busk, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Giuseppe Castiglione, Joseph Daul, Albert Deß, Michl Ebner, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Duarte Freitas, Jean-Claude Fruteau, Ioannis Gklavakis, Lutz Goepel, Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, María Esther Herranz García, Elisabeth Jeggle, Heinz Kindermann, Stéphane Le Foll, Albert Jan Maat, Diamanto Manolakou, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Neil Parish, María Isabel Salinas García, Agnes Schierhuber, Willem Schuth, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Csaba Sándor Tabajdi, Marc Tarabella, Jeffrey Titford, Kyösti Virrankoski, Janusz Wojciechowski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Bernadette Bourzai, Ilda Figueiredo, Vincenzo Lavarra, Astrid Lulling, Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański

Date tabled

23.2.2006

Comments (available in one language only)

...

Legal notice - Privacy policy