From March 1st to 3rd, AREPO held its first General Assembly in 2023, hosted by the Extremadura region, currently holding the Presidency of the Association.
AREPO members were hosted in the beautiful city of Cáceres, that participants had the occasion to explore on March 1st with a guided tour of the old medieval town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
The first day ended with a dinner at Torre de Sande, where participants were welcomed by AREPO President, Ms Begoña García Bernal, Regional Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development, Population and Territory of the Extremadura region, and had the pleasure of start tasting the delicacies and PDO and PGI products of the region.
The General Assembly took place on March 2nd, in the Sala Malinche at Complejo Cultural San Francisco.
In her welcome speech, Ms García Bernal stressed the importance of AREPO for EU regions involved in EU Quality productions as well as its role as the reference actor at EU level in the field of GIs. The President also presented the activity report, resuming all the activities carried out by AREPO throughout the first year and a half of Extremadura Presidency, especially stressing the commitment in the ongoing revision of the EU GI system.
Besides the internal work of the technical group set up to draft the proposals for amendments to the legislative proposal put forward by the European Commission, Ms García Bernal emphasised the role played by AREPO as expert on the opinion of the European Committee of the Region (adopted by unanimity) and in the relentless work and discussions with all the Institutional actors involved in the legislative process.
The details of the priorities defended by AREPO and the proposals presented to the MEPs were outlined in the thematic session.
Mr Roberto Berutti, member of the cabinet of the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, attended the assembly in Cáceres contributing with an overview of the various Commission initiatives underway of interest to GI regions and GI producers, focusing particularly on EU Promotion policy. His presentation was followed by a debate with AREPO regions and producers.
It was also the occasion to provide an update on some of the results delivered by the EU projects in which AREPO is involved as partner, AGROSMARTglobal and MOVING, as well as the 5th European event for the promotion of quality and origin products that AREPO is organising in Brussels on 30 March 2023. It will start with a conference delivering the results of the EU project AGROSMARTglobal and addressing the revision of the EU geographical indications systems, and it will end with a tasting of GI products from AREPO member regions. Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, and the rapporteur for the European Parliament, MEP Paolo de Castro, will attend it.
The afternoon session was dedicated to a meeting of the AREPO’s Board of Producers.
Mr Guglielmo Garagnani, Vice-President of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, represented AREPO’s Vice-Presidency and introduced the main topics of discussion: EC future initiative on sustainability of agri-food productions and GIs (the revision of the legislation on animal welfare; the legislative framework for sustainable food systems, the nutritional and environmental labelling of food) and how to further include GIs in tourism strategies at regional level.
The representatives of Extremadura producers within AREPO, Mr Ángel Pacheco Conejero, President of PDO Torta del Casar, and Mr Raúl Muñiz Cimas, Director of PGI Cordero de Extremadura CORDEREX,presented the regional foods with quality label and the concerns of the producers of Extremadura.
Furthermore, several producers and representatives of Consejos Reguladores from Extremadura participated and took the floor to contribute to the discussion.
As part of the activities organised during the General Assembly,AREPO members had the opportunity to participate in two technical visits. Participants visited a cheese factory of the PDO “Torta del Casar” and the enterprise “La Dalia” producing PDO Pimentón de la Vera, learning more about these PDOs, their production process and characteristics. Furthermore, on March 3rd, participants visited the Pimentón museum in Jaraíz de la Vera.