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Agricultural policy and rural development

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Certificates of specific character

Community system for the protection of food products
whose typical characteristic is related to a traditional method of production



Official title

"Regulation no. 2082/92 of 14 July 1992 on certificates of specific character for agricultural products and foodstuffs"

Legal references

Regulation no. 2082/92 of 14/7/1992 on certificates of specific character for agricultural products and foodstuffs amended by R 1848/93, R 2515/94 and R 2182/98 establishing the application procedures of the preceding regulation.

Decision no. 53/93 of 21/12/1992 on the establishment of a scientific committee for designations of origin, geographical indications and certificates of specific character, amended by Decision 437/94 du 14/6/94, which provides additional details on the committee's operations.


  • Encourage the diversification of agricultural production by developing certain specific products in a context of rural development.

  • Establish for this purpose rules on obtaining a Community certificate of specific character for agricultural products and foodstuffs.

Definition and conditions of registration

The regulation is limited to agricultural products and certain foodstuffs. It does not apply to products of the winemaking sector or to beverages and spirits.

"Community certificate of specific character" is understood to mean the Community recognition of specific characteristics of a foodstuff, which makes it clearly different from similar food of the same category.

The food whose specific character has been recognised is entered in a register kept by the European Commission.

To be included in this register, the food must have specific characteristics resulting from the raw materials used to make it or resulting from the conditions in which it was produced but not resulting from the food's geographical origin or its specific technological nature. The food therefore must not only satisfy standards or regulations established for a category of products.

The regulation stipulates that the food must also have a traditional character to receive the certificate of specific character. This means that the product must:

    • be made with traditional raw materials,
    • have a traditional composition,
    • be produced and/or processed in a traditional manner.

It should be noted that the regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin (see factsheet L.1.3.2) precedes the regulation on certificates of specific character: when a product is different from other products because of qualities related to its origin, its name must be registered as "PGI" (protected geographical indication) or "PDO" (protected designation of origin).



The registration application may only be filed by a group of producers with a list of specifications of the food. The specifications must include: the selling name, the production rules, a description of the food and its main characteristics, the elements that can be used to evaluate the traditional character, and the requirements and procedures of inspection of the specific character.

The application must be filed with the relevant authority of the Member State who, after checking that the necessary requirements have been fulfilled, forwards the application to the Commission.

The Commission sends it to the other Member States within a period of six months and publishes the application in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Within a period of five months, any natural or legal person concerned may object to the registration by contacting the relevant national authorities. If no objection is made within six months, the Commission enters the product in the register and publishes the decision in the Official Journal. If there is an objection, the Commission asks the Member States concerned to arrive at an agreement themselves. If no agreement is reached, the Commission, with the help of an advisory committee, makes a decision. This procedure may also be used if a group of producers wants to change its list of specifications.

After publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities, the selling name, which refers to the specific character, is reserved for the food indicated in the list of specifications.

The words "guaranteed traditional specific character" and a Community symbol (logo) may be included on the label, on the packaging and in advertising of the registered food. To protect the established rights, these specific names may coexist with those already reserved by national provisions or with names based on custom.

The Member States must set up a rigorous system of inspection to ensure that the food complies with the list of specifications.

A country outside the European Union may, at the request of its producers, apply for the Community certificate of specific character for food with guarantees equivalent to those established by the present regulation. The Commission is empowered to open negotiations with a view to signing international agreements.

The Member States must take whatever measures are necessary to legally protect the food against any misuse or imitation of the selling names registered. The registered names are protected against any practices constituting acts of unfair competition.

A regulatory committee composed of representatives of the Member States assists the Commission in its task.

Communication means

"Food products of specific quality".
"Green Europe" Collection. 1/96. European Commission, Directorate-General for Information, Communication, Culture, Audiovisual Policy, Unit A4 "Relays and Information Networks", Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels.

COM(99)347 final (not published in the Official Journal)
This report was adopted by the Commission on 19 July 1999 on the basis of Article 21 of Regulation (EEC)
no. 2082/92. It analyses two aspects in particular:

  • the application of the procedure of objection when registering names and its weak points, ie. the time limit for the amicable procedure and the lack of a definition of the grounds for objection;
  • the application of the different levels of protection granted by the said regulation.

Additional sources of information

European Commission
200 rue de la Loi
B-1049 Brussels.
Tel: +32 2 295 68 46
Fax: +32 2 296 12 71

last update: 07/01


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