Plans underway to expand list of GIs and DOs

European Union

The European Parliament has adopted the European Commission's proposal to update Council Regulation 2081/92 protecting geographical indications (GIs) and designations of origin (DOs) for agricultural products and foodstuffs. The amendments, if accepted by the European Council, will bring the regulation in line with international trade rules by (i) extending the range of products covered, and (ii) tightening up the provision concerning non-European products.

The current legislation, amended by Council Regulation 535/97, protects various foodstuffs and agricultural products, including cheeses and meat-based products, originating from specific geographical areas. Only products meeting strict criteria (eg, method of preparation) may qualify as either GIs or DOs. However, once registered, both types are legally protected against any misuse, or false or misleading indication.

The proposed amendments:

  • extend the protection to products such as mustard pastes, pastas, wool, osier and products derived from tobacco;

  • provide that, within 10 years, mineral and spring water should be removed from the regulation as they are already protected under Council Directive 80/777 on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral water;

  • introduce the possibility to cancel the registration of GIs and DOs (i) if the applicant waives the registration, or (ii) if the denotation no longer meets the selection criteria. In the latter case, the same product will not be registrable for the next five years; and

  • preclude applicants from seeking registration for GIs and DOs that refer to a country neighbouring an EU member state, unless the concerned country applies in common.

It remains to be seen whether the EU Council will accept the amendments.

Tanja Hogh Holub, Beiten Burkhardt Goerdeler, Munich

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