` New EU Law on Agricultural Product Origins - Olive Oil Times

New EU Law on Agricultural Product Origins

Dec. 17, 2012
Virginia Brown Keyder

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A Wall Street Journal attempt at humor con­tained in a 2009 arti­cle, English Village Tries to Milk A Connection to its Cheesy Past”(1) is a good indi­ca­tion of the degree of mis­un­der­stand­ing and pos­si­bly deri­sion, by US com­men­ta­tors about the European Union (EU) sys­tem of pro­tect­ing Geographical Indications (PDI) and Designations of Origin (PDO), and Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG)’.

To clar­ify, con­sol­i­date and update the dis­tinctly European form of intel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP) addressed in the WSJ arti­cle, the EU has pub­lished in the Official Journal of December 14, 2012 a new Regulation that will go into effect in early January 2013(2). The Regulation is of con­sid­er­able impor­tance not only to the olive oil sec­tor, but also to an expanded range of prod­ucts now eli­gi­ble for protection.(3)

Just as the intro­duc­tion of the prac­tice of can­ning and bot­tling gave rise to the use of brand­ing in the late 19th cen­tury, so the facil­ity with which the pre­cise prov­i­dence of olive oil can be guar­an­teed through advanced sci­en­tific meth­ods is now the basis of an impor­tant mar­ket­ing tool.

This is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant for the EU, given the ris­ing demand for up-mar­ket European agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and spe­cialty foods among at least the top tier of a grow­ing band of world con­sumers hun­gry for doc­u­mented tastes and the sta­tus that comes with knowl­edge about, and con­sump­tion of European olive oils. In addi­tion, PDO and PGI facil­i­tate trace­abil­ity and help to pro­mote the rise of European olive oil tourism.

The new Regulation repeals ear­lier sep­a­rate Regulations(4) and replaces them with a sin­gle legal source. It also intro­duces pro­tec­tion for new optional qual­ity terms such as moun­tain prod­ucts’ and (at a later date) island prod­ucts’. It estab­lishes new label­ing require­ments, includ­ing manda­tory EU’ label­ing, and new pro­tec­tions for nat­ural resources, land­scapes and farm ani­mal wel­fare asso­ci­ated with prod­ucts sub­ject to the scheme.


It also sets down ver­i­fi­ca­tion, con­trol and oppo­si­tion pro­ce­dures and addresses com­pli­ance with other areas of EU law, includ­ing food law and spe­cific areas of label­ing such as trade­mark, generic terms, and plant vari­ety names. Product spec­i­fi­ca­tion require­ments, includ­ing name (which is only pro­tected in lan­guages used to describe the prod­uct in the defined geo­graph­i­cal area); phys­i­cal, chem­i­cal, micro­bi­o­log­i­cal or organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics; and evi­dence of prod­uct ori­gin are also set out. The Regulation envis­ages new local farm­ing and direct sales label­ing schemes to be ini­ti­ated in the com­ing years.

The Regulation is part of a new set of pol­icy ini­tia­tives embod­ied in Europe 2020: A Strategy for smart, sus­tain­able and inclu­sive growth” designed to pro­vide pro­duc­ers with the right tools to bet­ter iden­tify and pro­mote those of their prod­ucts that have spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics while pro­tect­ing those pro­duc­ers against unfair prac­tices.”


1. John W. Miller, Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2009.

2. Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on qual­ity schemes for agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food­stuffs OJ L 343/1, 14.12.2012.

3. Products not included in the orig­i­nal Common Agricultural Policy list, but now eli­gi­ble for pro­tec­tion this Regulation include beer, choco­late and derived prod­ucts, bread, pas­try, cakes con­fec­tionary, bis­cuits, bev­er­ages made from plant extracts, pasta, salt, nat­ural gums and resins, mus­tard paste, hay, essen­tial oils, cork, cochineal, flow­ers and orna­men­tal plants, cot­ton, wool, wicker, scotched flax, leather, fur and feather. Products not included in the Regulation include spirit drinks, aro­m­a­tized wine or grapevine prod­ucts with the excep­tion of wine vine­gar.

4. Council Regulation (EC) No 509/2006 of 20 March 2006 on agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food­stuffs as tra­di­tional spe­cial­i­ties guar­an­teed and Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 of 20 March 2006 on the pro­tec­tion of geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tions and des­ig­na­tions of ori­gin for agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food­stuffs.

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