Aims of EU quality schemes
EU quality policy aims to protect the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional know-how.
Product names can be granted a 'geographical indication' (GI) if they have a specific link to the place where they are made. The GI recognition enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products while also helping producers to market their products better.
Products that are under consideration or have been granted GI recognition are listed in quality products registers. The registers also include information on the geographical and production specifications for each product.
Recognised as intellectual property, geographical indications play an increasingly important role in trade negotiations between the EU and other countries.
Other EU quality schemes emphasise the traditional production process or products made in difficult natural areas such as mountains or islands.
Geographical indications establish intellectual property rights for specific products, whose qualities are specifically linked to the area of production.
Geographical indications comprise:
- PDO – protected designation of origin (food and wine)
- PGI – protected geographical indication (food and wine)
- GI – geographical indication (spirit drinks and aromatised wines).
The EU geographical indications system protects the names of products that originate from specific regions and have specific qualities or enjoy a reputation linked to the production territory. The differences between PDO and PGI are linked primarily to how much of the product’s raw materials must come from the area, or how much of the production process has to take place within the specific region. GI is specific for spirit drinks and aromatised wines.
Protected designation of origin (PDO)
Product names registered as PDO are those that have the strongest links to the place in which they are made.
Food, agricultural products and wines.
Every part of the production, processing and preparation process must take place in the specific region.
For wines, this means that the grapes have to come exclusively from the geographical area where the wine is made.
Kalamata olive oil PDO is entirely produced in the region of Kalamata in Greece, using olive varieties from that area.
– Mandatory for food and agricultural products
– Optional for wine
Protected geographical indication (PGI)
PGI emphasises the relationship between the specific geographic region and the name of the product, where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Food, agricultural products and wines.
For most products, at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the region.
In the case of wine, this means that at least 85% of the grapes used have to come exclusively from the geographical area where the wine is actually made.
Westfälischer Knochenschinken PGI ham is produced in Westphalia using age-old techniques, but the meat used does not exclusively come from animals born and reared in that specific region of Germany.
– Mandatory for food, agricultural products
– Optional for wines
Geographical indication of spirit drinks and aromatised wines (GI)
The GI protects the name of a spirit drink or aromatised wine originating in a country, region or locality where the product’s particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Spirit drinks and aromatised wines.
For most products, at least one of the stages of distillation or preparation takes place in the region. However, raw products do not need to come from the region.
Irish Whiskey GI has been brewed, distilled and matured in Ireland since the 6th century, but the raw materials do not exclusively come from Ireland.
Optional for all products
Traditional speciality guaranteed
Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) highlights the traditional aspects, such as the way the product is made or its composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area. The name of a product being registered as a TSG protects it against falsification and misuse.
Food and agricultural products
Gueuze TSG is a traditional beer obtained by spontaneous fermentation. It is generally produced in and around Brussels, Belgium. Nonetheless, being a TSG, its production method is protected but it could be produced somewhere else.
Mandatory for all products
How products are protected
As part of the EU’s system of IPRs, names of products registered as GIs are legally protected against imitation and misuse within the EU and in non-EU countries where a specific protection agreement has been signed.
For all quality schemes, each EU country’s competent national authorities take the necessary measures to protect the registered names within their territory. They should also prevent and stop the unlawful production or marketing of products using such a name.
Non-European product names can also register as GIs if their country of origin has a bilateral or regional agreement with the EU that includes the mutual protection of such names.
The names of various products (wine, food, aromatised wines and spirit drinks) produced in several countries outside the EU, such as Colombia or South Africa, have been protected.
GIs applied for and entered in the Union registers may be consulted on eAmbrosia (the official database of EU GI registers), while both EU and non-EU GIs protected under agreements can be consulted on the GIview portal.
The quality term ‘mountain product’ highlights the specificities of a product, made in mountain areas, with difficult natural conditions.
Recognising this is an advantage for farmers as well as consumers. It enables farmers to market the product better but also ensures certain characteristics are clear to the consumer.
Agricultural and food products.
Raw materials and animal feed comes from mountain areas. For processed products, production should take place in such areas as well.
Product of EU's outermost regions
Agriculture in the EU’s outermost regions face difficulties due to remoteness and insularity, which brings with it difficult geographical and meteorological conditions. To ensure greater awareness of agricultural products from the EU’s outermost regions (the French Overseas Departments – Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Martinique – and the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands) a dedicated logo has been created.
Agricultural and food products.
Produced in outermost regions
Logo example for agricultural and food products from the EU’s outermost regions
Voluntary certification schemes
Voluntary certification schemes at national level or those run by private operators can also help consumers to be confident about the quality of the products they choose.
In addition to the EU schemes, a large number of private and national food quality schemes or logos exist, covering a wide range of initiatives and operating between businesses or between businesses and consumers.
In consultation with stakeholders, the European Commission developed guidelines showing best practice for the operation of such schemes.