EU Council Endorses New Rules: Safeguarding Geographical Indications for Quality Agricultural Products

Simona Mazzeo

Brussels ( Brussels Morning) – European Council approves regulations to protect Geographical Indications, empowering producer associations and enhancing online safeguards for agricultural products.

The European Council has given final authorisation to new rules to shield geographical indications (GIs) for wine, spirits and agricultural products, including on the Internet. 

Among the new features is an enhanced role for producer associations, giving them the power and responsibilities to handle their indications, including defining their members in intellectual property control networks. Under the latest rules, member states will have the option of setting producer associations as “recognised producer associations”  with complete rights to be exercised on behalf of all producers of the food with an expression of origin label. When only one component of a GI product is used for processed food, this must be reported to the recognised producer organisations, and the ingredient percentage must be indicated.

GIs will again enjoy greater protection on the Internet, in field names containing geographical indications, via geo-blocking (geographical access barricades). To this end, the EU Intellectual Property Office (Euipo) has been entrusted with setting up a domain name notification and alert system. The Commission will persist to ensure a thorough examination position for applications for product registrations.

Geographical indications are intellectual property rights that safeguard the names of products with distinctive characteristics or qualities or a distinct reputation and that are related to their area of production. Such products are shielded against copying or fraud, while the geographical system guarantees that they have been simulated by high standards in their region of origin. In agriculture, there are three types of quality certificates: Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs), which involve food products and wines, and Geographical Indications (GIs) for spirits.

The European Union also shields Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG). These are the terms of agricultural products that highlight the traditional aspects of a product without being connected to a specific geographical area. Examples of well-known TSGs are Pizza Napoletana and Vieille Kriek.

These quality schemes give manufacturer a competitive advantage by letting them to better sell their products and grow their sales, including with the support of local producer groups.

The European Council’s final authorization of new rules to protect geographical indications (GIs) represents a significant advancement in preserving the integrity and reputation of agricultural products within the European Union. With the introduction of enhanced roles for producer associations and the implementation of improved protection measures on the Internet, these regulations serve to uphold the quality and authenticity of European goods. 

By empowering producer associations to manage their indications and strengthening intellectual property control networks, the new rules ensure comprehensive oversight and enforcement. Moreover, the integration of geo-blocking mechanisms on the internet, facilitated by the EU Intellectual Property Office (Euipo), adds a layer of defence against unauthorized use of geographical indications. 

Moving forward, the European Commission’s commitment to maintaining a rigorous examination process for product registrations underscores its dedication to preserving the heritage and tradition associated with geographical indications. These initiatives not only safeguard against imitation and fraud but also provide a competitive advantage for manufacturers, facilitating increased sales and growth opportunities, particularly when supported by local producer groups.

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Simona Mazzeo is a journalist at Brussels Morning News. She is covering European Parliament, European Council, European Commission & Italy News. She is a law graduate and lawyer residing in Agropoli, has carved out a multifaceted career dedicated to justice and social advocacy. She actively serves as a delegated councilor for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Bar Association of Vallo della Lucania, championing fair and equal representation within the legal system. Recognized for her expertise and empathy, Simona is qualified for registration in the list of Special Curators of minors in civil and criminal matters at the Court of Vallo della Lucania, ensuring the rights and interests of vulnerable children are protected throughout legal proceedings. Beyond her legal practice, Simona demonstrates a strong commitment to social causes. She is a founding member of the Free Lawyer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. Additionally, she leverages her knowledge and passion for social justice as a non-professional journalist, contributing insightful and informative pieces on relevant legal and societal issues. Through her diverse endeavors, Simona Mazzeo exemplifies dedication to legal excellence, social responsibility, and a fervent belief in equal access to justice for all.