Europe Strengthens Protections for Geographical Indications

The reforms provide protection for PDO and PGI extra virgin olive oil from online fraud and ease the process of registering new ones with the European Commission.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Mar. 6, 2024 23:24 UTC

The European Parliament has voted over­whelm­ingly to strengthen rules pro­tect­ing Geographical Indications (GIs) for wine, spir­its, extra vir­gin olive oil and other agri­cul­tural goods against coun­ter­feits and fraud.

The reforms include addi­tional pro­tec­tion for GI prod­ucts online, clar­i­fy­ing how prod­ucts using GI ingre­di­ents must be labeled, giv­ing GI pro­duc­ers more rights and stream­lin­ing the reg­is­tra­tion process for new GI prod­ucts.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant moment for the agri-food sec­tor,” said Pietro Paganini, pres­i­dent of Competere, a think tank that lob­bied for the law.

See Also:Rise in Production of Italian PDO and PGI Olive Oils, New Report Reveals

For the first time, the sec­tor has a uni­fied leg­isla­tive basis, which aims to strengthen the com­pet­i­tive­ness and sus­tain­abil­ity of ter­ri­to­r­ial pro­duc­tions, as well as the fun­da­men­tal role of pro­tec­tion con­sor­tia,” he added. The new reg­u­la­tion rec­og­nizes the Italian model as an exam­ple for all Europe.”

The new law requires national author­i­ties to take admin­is­tra­tive and judi­cial mea­sures to stop the ille­gal use of GIs online and in the real world. For exam­ple, domain names using GIs ille­gally must be shut down or access dis­abled via geo-block­ing.

Geographical Indication

GI prod­ucts, or Geographical Indication prod­ucts, refer to agri­cul­tural or food items whose qual­i­ties, rep­u­ta­tion and char­ac­ter­is­tics are closely linked to their geo­graph­i­cal ori­gin. These des­ig­na­tions ensure that prod­ucts, such as extra vir­gin olive oils. are pro­duced using tra­di­tional meth­ods and adhere to strict qual­ity stan­dards.

The new rules also restrict how processed prod­ucts may use GIs on their pack­ag­ing or adver­tis­ing, stat­ing that the GI must be used in suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties to con­fer an essen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tic on the processed prod­uct.”

Furthermore, the per­cent­age of the GI ingre­di­ent used in the prod­uct must be indi­cated on the label, and a rec­og­nized pro­ducer group for the ingre­di­ent must be noti­fied before use.

If used in processed prod­ucts, GI names must be included on pack­ag­ing in the same field of vision as the names of the food pro­ducer.

The law also clar­i­fies that the European Commission will main­tain sole over­sight of the GI sys­tem, sim­pli­fies the pro­ce­dure for apply­ing for new GIs and encour­ages pro­duc­ers to develop tourist activ­i­ties.

While the pro­posal to attach manda­tory sus­tain­able prac­tices to GI appli­ca­tions was not approved, the final text encour­ages pro­duc­ers to pre­pare sus­tain­abil­ity reports describ­ing their sus­tain­able prac­tices.

According to Paolo De Castro, an Italian Member of the European Parliament and the rap­por­teur for the reform, the new leg­is­la­tion will make European agri­cul­ture more sus­tain­able and com­pet­i­tive by pro­mot­ing activ­i­ties that add value to tra­di­tion­ally pro­duced goods.

See Also:Two Greek PDO Olive Oils Receive Protection in India

Thanks to Parliament, we now have a cru­cial reg­u­la­tion for our qual­ity agri-food chains, strength­en­ing the role of pro­ducer groups and the pro­tec­tion for Geographical Indications, increas­ing sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, sus­tain­abil­ity and trans­parency towards con­sumers,” he said.

This is a bet­ter sys­tem, gen­er­at­ing added value, with­out pub­lic funds,” De Castro added. After the crises sparked by the Covid-19 pan­demic, the Russian inva­sion of Ukraine, and the surge in pro­duc­tion prices, the new GI reg­u­la­tion finally is good news for European farm­ers.”

GIs insti­tute intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights for reg­is­tered food prod­ucts from spe­cific pro­duc­tion areas and are pro­duced accord­ing to approved pro­to­cols – usu­ally fol­low­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods.

Since the 1970s, European author­i­ties have moved to pro­tect GIs. There are cur­rently 3,5000 GIs rec­og­nized by the E.U., val­ued at more than €80 bil­lion.

More than 130 extra vir­gin olive oils are reg­is­tered with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by Brussels.

PDOs are GI prod­ucts entirely pro­duced in a spe­cific region, while PGIs tend to cover broader areas and spec­ify that most but not all of the process must occur in that area.

According to Janusz Wojciechowski, the E.U. com­mis­sioner for agri­cul­ture, GI prod­ucts pre­serve our unique her­itage and tra­di­tions, and they sup­port rural job cre­ation.”

The law will be pub­lished in the E.U. Official Journal as soon as the European Council for­mally adopts the new rules and will come into force 20 days after pub­li­ca­tion.


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