New framework for Quality schemes in agriculture enters into force
Guaranteeing quality to consumers and a fair price for farmers are the twin aims of the new Quality Regulation that enters into force today.
Based on the proposal tabled by the Commission in 2010 the text is a very balanced compromise between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission.
It encourages the diversification of agricultural production, protect product names from misuse and imitation and help consumers providing information on product characteristics and farming attributes.
"The strength of European agricultural production lies in its diversity, in the know-how of farmers, and in the soil and territories of production", said Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, adding: "Farmers who are under pressure from the economic downturn, concentration of retailer bargaining power, and global competition, need the tools to better communicate about the quality of their products to consumers".
The new Regulation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs achieves a simplified regime for several quality schemes by putting them under one single legal instrument.
Furthermore, it creates a more robust framework for the protection and promotion of quality agricultural products.
The key elements of the new Regulation include:
- more coherence and clarity to the EU quality schemes,
- a reinforcement of the existing scheme for protected designations of origin and geographical indications (PDOs and PGIs),
- overhauling the traditional specialities guaranteed scheme (TSGs),
- laying down a new framework for the development of optional quality terms to provide consumers with further information, it creates and protects the optional quality term "mountain product".
In addition, the Commission is asked to provide a report on local farming and direct sales no later than 12 months after the entry into force of the new Regulation.
The Regulation in more detail
PDOs and PGIs (excluding wines, aromatised wines and spirits which remain covered by separate legislation):
- Faster registration procedures as in particular the opposition period is halved from six to three months;
- the rules on controls are clarified;
- the use of the PDO and PGI logos will become compulsory for products of EU origin from 4 January 2016 onwards;
- a legal basis for inserting third country GI protected through bilateral agreements into the EU register is created;
- a legal basis for financing the defense of the EU logos is established;
- the role of producer groups is recognised.
The scheme is simplified and strengthened, notably as in the future only the registration with reservation of a name will be possible.
In order to be "traditional" proven usage on the market during at least 30 years (instead of 25) is now required.
Optional quality terms:
The optional quality term "mountain product" is reserved. The Commission is empowered to reserve new terms (and amend the conditions of use of existing ones) by delegated acts.
The new Regulation asks the Commission to present a report to the European Parliament and to the Council no later than 4 January 2014 on the case for a new local farming and direct sales labelling scheme to assist producers in marketing their produce locally.
Also, no later than 4 January 2014 the Commission shall present a report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the case for a new optional quality term "product of island farming".
The reports shall, if necessary, be accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals on the creation of a local farming and direct sales labelling scheme and to reserve an optional quality term "product of island farming", respectively.