The European Commission has approved the Protected Geographical Indication PGI ‘Sicilia’ (Sicily) for extra virgin olive oil produced on the island. The second territorial geographical indication (the first is the Toscano PGI) is the result of long negotiations and a positive sign after the controversy that followed the European vote on Tunisian olive oil
criticized by Italian farmers, Sicilian ones in particular.
An EU geographical indication identifies “the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country used to describe an agricultural or food product as native of that region, specific place or country, and of which a given quality, reputation or other characteristics can be attributed to that geographical origin and whose production and/or processing and/or preparation take place in the defined geographical area,” as reads art. 2 of the Regulation (EC) no. 510/2006.
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Such certifications (PGI and PDO) by the European Union are intended to promote the development of specific rural areas and populations which exert activities related to agriculture and manufacture of agri-food products with special quality characteristics, in order to protect the interests of producers and consumers.
The PGI validation allows Sicilian farmers to benefit from the Measure 3 of the Rural Development Programme of Sicily and covers certification costs up to €3,000 per farm. The certification will also allow organizations of Sicilian producers to access promotion programs in third countries and the measures for the promotion of regional supply chains.
Giovanni La Via, chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament, called the measure “a great success for Sicily and a recognition of the work done in recent months which enables us to overcome some technical concerns, and that relaunches one of the strategic sectors of our region, promoting our agri-food excellence.”
“This is the great victory of a battle in which I have been personally involved since the beginning of my mandate,” added Michela Giuffrida, a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the EP. “The identification of a unique olive oil production of the Sicilian territory is an extraordinary opportunity for the island farmers which can benefit from the advantages of the European quality system and finally write on the label that their extra virgin olive oil comes exclusively from olives grown and crushed in Sicily, with superior quality parameters than the conventional extra virgin olive oil.”
The regional agriculture counsellor, Antonello Cracolici and the president of the IGP Sicilia Olive Oil Committee, Maurizio Lunetta said in a joint statement, “Brussels’s recognition is a great result for the whole Sicilian olive oil supply chain and for those who believed in this project and invested their time. Now let us focus on quality as well as quantity and support Sicilian extra virgin olive oil.”
Now that the decree is published in the EU Official Journal, the other member states have 15 days to submit comments before the certification becomes effective.