The European Commission presented on 28 May 2009 a communication laying down strategic orientations to improve the EU agricultural product quality policy.
Aiming to reconnect EU farmers to consumers, the communication outlines options on how farmers could better reach consumers by building on the high quality reputation of their products to retain a fair share of the value added, increasing competitiveness and profitability.
The communication considers all elements of EU quality policy: marketing standards, geographical indications, traditional specialties guaranteed, organic farming, and certification schemes.
The communication in a nutshell
To achieve a greater overall coherence and consistency of agricultural product quality policy, the European Commission suggests:
- progressive adopting of obligatory place-of-farming labelling;
- replacing of detailed marketing standards by a general standard and developing of the 'reserved terms' instrument;
- establishing of non-binding guidelines covering private and national food quality certification schemes;
- creating of a unique register for all geographical indications (for wines, spirits and agricultural products and foodstuffs) while preserving the specificities of each system;
- the improving of international protection of geographical indications and contributing to the development of international standards for marketing standards and organic products;replacing of the Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG) scheme.
The communication builds on a Green Paper published in 2008 and the High Level Quality Policy Conference organised in Prague on 12 and 13 March 2009.
In response to this communication, the Council of the European Union provided political orientations in June 2009 with Council conclusions [see also statement from the delegations]. This paved the way to the 'Quality package', adopted in 2010.