On 30 November 2022, during its 152nd Plenary Session the Committee of the Regions (CoR) approved by unanimity the opinion of Ms Karine Gloanec-Maurin (First Deputy Mayor of Couëtron au Perche) on the review of EU Geographical Indications.
AREPO had the pleasure and the honour to support the work of the rapporteur throughout the year as expert appointed by the CoR.
“Geographical indications are an integral part of European identity: who could imagine France without Champagne, Italy without Parmesan or Spain without Jamón Ibérico. They have shaped our territories and still play a fundamental role in rural development, because they ensure a better income for producers and contribute to the attractiveness of rural areas. They are the model to follow for developing a European agriculture of quality. This is why the CoR has supported the evolution of the GI system towards a voluntary approach to sustainability in order to encourage producers and producer groups to become more involved in the sustainable transition”, stated Ms Gloanec-Maurin.
As a matter of fact, her opinion, previously approved unanimously by the CoR NAT Commission on October 5th, brings the focus of the revision back to the contribution of GIs to rural development and acknowledges their contribution to sustainability. As a result, the opinion proposes to define the scope of sustainability undertakings in the new regulation, defending a voluntary approach to sustainability, capable on the one hand of recognising and promoting the existing practices and on the other hand of supporting and encouraging producers and producer groups to become more involved in the sustainable transition.
In her opinion, the Deputy mayor delegate of Couëtron-au-Perche also stresses the importance of providing clear deadlines and speeding up registration and specification amendment procedures.
Concerning the proposed involvement of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in the functioning of the system, the rapporteur, always reminding that GIs are more than intellectual property rights, supported its implication to provide technical assistance to the European Commission in cases relating to intellectual property and to help improving controls and the fight against fraud.
Ms Gloanec-Maurin opinion emphasises the importance of encouraging producer groups to better structure themselves in order to work efficiently. Strong collective governance is at the heart of the GI system. However, in order not to undermine systems that are already in place and working well, she asked to apply more subsidiarity so as to allow Member States to maintain or improve their national systems.
In addition, it focuses on the possibility for regional or local public bodies to assist in the preparation of the application and the registration procedure for Geographical Indications, recalling how relevant it is to formalise the contribution of the regions in the preparation and preliminary stages of the registration process for a new GI.
To conclude, a mention to small and medium-sized geographical indications – which account for 48% of the total number of GIs in the EU, but only 0.5% of the total value of sales. Ms Gloanec-Maurin called in the opinion for adequate support to enable small and medium-sized GI producers to deal with high production costs and thus avoid giving up on certification.
MEP & EP rapporteur for the revision of GI system, Paolo De Castro (IT/S&D), also participated in the plenary, reminding the convergence between his and Ms Gloanec-Maurin’s opinion. He emphasised as well that this revision “is not a revolution, but the evolution of a system that is unique in the world, which already works by generating value without the need to invest any public funds”.