On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee adopted its position on new rules for EU geographical indications to protect quality agricultural products.
With 46 votes to 0 and 0 abstentions, MEPs on the Agriculture Committee adopted a report on the reform of EU rules for registering and protecting geographical indications (GIs) for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products, and quality schemes for agricultural products.
Protection online and as ingredients
To better protect GIs online, MEPs backed provisions to ensure that all domains abusing the name of a GI are automatically closed or assigned to a producer group that uses the GI legally. To assist with the task, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) should establish an alert system monitoring the registration of domain names.
As a general rule, producers of processed products must be forbidden to use a GI in the name of their product containing a GI ingredient, unless permitted to do so by a producer group.
Simpler registration procedure
To remove red tape for producers, MEPs propose to reduce the time the Commission has to register a new GI from six to five months, and limit the extension period to a maximum of three months, and only in duly justified cases.
National authorities should manage most requests for changes to existing GI registrations without the Commission checking them again to speed up the amending procedure and reduce workload, MEPs added. MEPs want the Commission, with its unique agricultural expertise to continue administering the GIs system, rather than the EUIPO, as proposed in the draft text.
Unique sustainability of GIs
Thanks to their long varied traditions, agricultural products protected by GIs have specific sustainable characteristics, says the Agriculture Committee. MEPs propose that producers explain their commitment to social and environmental sustainability in reports available to consumers on an EU portal.
More rights for producer groups
Finally, MEPs want recognised producer groups – designated by EU countries and acting as the sole representative for specific GIs – to be given more responsibilities, such as establishing minimum conditions for the use of a GI name or supervising the fair use of GIs. Recognised producer groups should also be able to receive compulsory financial contributions from all producers of the GI good.
After the vote, rapporteur Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said:
“The so-called GI economy is worth, at EU level, almost 80 billion euro. This is no longer merely a cultural issue affecting a few countries or a region, but has unique economic, social and political significance, creating value without the need of any public fund. With this regulation, we will strengthen this unique EU regime, which is more and more appreciated by European and global consumers, increasing the protection, the promotion and the sustainability of GIs products, which are recognised worldwide as synonymous with excellence and quality, thanks to the passion and savoir-faire of our farmers and producers.”
The report will now be tabled for a vote by Parliament’s Plenary, possibly during the 31 May – 1 June session. If adopted, talks with EU governments can start once the Council is ready.
GIs are intellectual property rights that identify products having qualities, characteristics or a reputation due to natural and human factors linked to their place of origin. GIs have been protected by the EU since the 1970s. Today, the EU register of GIs contains almost 3500 entries, which represent a sales value of EUR 74.8 billion. The sales value of a product with a protected name is often double that of similar products without a certification.