Two new European regulations will simplify the process of identifying wines as ‘geographical indications’ (GI). Procedures for both GI registration and amendment will be streamlined and aligned with other food sectors, while the responsibilities regarding changes to product specification will be clarified as being at national or EU level.
The registration of a quality wine will be made easier thanks to the simplification of the description of the geographical link required in the application. Previously, applicants had to set out details on the geographical area, on the characteristics of the product attributable to the geographical environment, and on the causal interaction between the two. With the new rules, applicants will only need to describe the causal link between the geographical area and the characteristics.
Responsibility for the examination of the application has been streamlined to prevent the same work being done at national level and EU-level. For instance, the member state will first examine the application, while the Commission will then only focus on elements related to cross-border issues. Whereas before it could take a few years to do all this, a 6-month deadline will be introduced as part of the new rules, significantly shortening the process.
Objection and cancellation procedures will also be simplified and aligned to what currently exists for the food sector.
Amendments – changes to a GI wine for whatever reason – are now classified in two ways.
‘Union amendments’ cover important changes to a GI such as its name, its categorisation, its link to the geographical area or anything that restricts the marketing of the product. Those are adopted at EU level. ‘Standard amendments’ cover everything else and will be adopted at national level. This brings a clearer definition of the different amendments and reduces time spent on treating applications. No such distinction existed previously.
The new rules also include the possibility of granting temporary amendments to the product specification. This can be used in case of obligatory sanitary and phytosanitary measures, natural disasters or adverse weather conditions formally recognised as preventing certain production steps from taking place in the geographical area. To take a food-related example, following the earthquake in the Parmigiano area, part of the maturing period of the Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO was allowed to take place in a nearby area.
Transitional periods are also included in the new rules. On one hand, they can temporarily permit the use of a protected designation that may contravene the rules, giving producers more time to reconvert production or the name of the product. On the other hand, transitional periods can be put in place ahead of the registration of a protected wine, enabling member states to anticipate the effects of the protection of the name at a national level.
The new rules are in line with the current move towards the modernisation and simplification of the common agricultural policy (CAP), highlighted in the new legislative proposals.
27 July 2018