29 April 2022 News

AREPO first General Assembly in 2022

AREPO held its first General Assembly in 2022 in Brussels yesterday!

It was the occasion to finally meet after two years of online meetings and to physically introduce our President, Ms Begoña GARCÍA BERNAL, Regional Minister of Agriculture of the Extremadura Region, to our member Regions.

“Your cooperation and support are always essential for our recognition by the European Institutions and our legitimacy at EU level. Your continued support and commitment have been even more important in our remote activities over the last two years”, she stated welcoming the participants in the Assembly.

This GA was organised around the EC legislative proposal on the revision of EU GIs. The afternoon session, specifically, saw the participation of representatives of EU Institutions:

  • Mr Joao ONOFRE, Head of Unit F.3. on GIs of DG AGRI, presented the European Commission’s legislative proposal on the reform of GIs;
  • Mr Arūnas Želvys, Liaison Officer of the EUIPO Representation Office in Brussels, presented the role of the Office in the GI reform;
  • Ms Karine GLOANEC MAURIN, rapporteur for the European Committee of the Regions, presented some preliminary observations on which she will focus during the drafting of the CoR opinion;
  • Ms Irène TOLLERET, MEP and shadow rapporteur for the European Parliament on GI reform, presented her resolutions and proposals of work through a video message.

AREPO President shared with them some of the considerations elaborated by AREPO, reminding the role of GIs as tools for rural development and territorial planning and stressing AREPO’s commitment to contribute to the strengthening of EU GIs:

“For our regions, PDOs, PGIs and TSGs are an integral and essential part of agricultural and rural development policy. Today, we are facing new challenges for European agriculture, and geographical indications represent a key tool to ensure sustainability while preserving territorial balance at regional and local level”.

Mr Nicola BERTINELLI, AREPO Vice-President and President of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, outlined the conclusions of the AREPO College of Producers on the legislative proposal:

“Producer groups need to have more powers and to be able to deal with the overall management of their GI. They should do anything but marketing, which should be the specific activity of businesses that are part of the consortium”.

During the morning session, the GA offered the opportunity to provide an update on the EU policies of interest, such as the EU initiatives on nutrition labelling and promotion policy. The results of the European projects in which AREPO is partner (Interreg SUDOE AGROSMARTglobal project and Horizon 2020 MOVING project) have been presented, as well as the main conclusions of the AREPO study on the sustainability of small and medium-sized GIs.

Furthermore, Ms Audrey AUBARD, Secretary General of AFIGIA pointed out the main progress concerning the creation of an EU-wide system for protecting industrial and artisanal GIs and Mr. Riccardo DESERTI, President of OriGIn and Director of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, presented a preview of oriGIn’s position paper on GIs in the USA.

Several political representatives of AREPO Regions took part in the GA bringing meaningful contributions to the discussion. Among them, Mr Alessio Mammi, Regional Minister for Agriculture of Emilia-Romagna; Mr Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Vice-President in charge of Agriculture of Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region; Ms Patricia Picard, Regional councillor of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes; Ms Katerina Zografou, Vice-Governor of Central Macedonia; Ms Eirini Choudetsanaki, Regional Councillor of Crete; Mr Vasilis Ambas, Vice-governor for rural development of Western Macedonia; Mr Fabio Rolfi, Regional Minister for Agriculture of Lombardia Region.

On 27 April a meeting of the AREPO College of Producers took place. Paolo DE CASTRO, MEP and rapporteur on the revision of EU GI system, participated in the discussion presenting his intentions and expectations for the work he will have to do on the EC legislative proposal, encouraging AREPO members to contribute to his reflections:

GIs are a story of extraordinary success, that shows the ability to create value even in the most difficult areas of our European territories. We will have to work towards simplification since GIs world has become very complex with thousands of GIs and the need to amend their production specifications in order to adapt quickly to changing contexts; to clarify competences and areas of actions of the actors involved. We will work towards the strengthening of the producer groups, which are the main tools for managing and protecting the GI; towards the strengthening of the protection system, focusing particularly, on evocation”.

The GA was followed by a meeting of the AREPO Scientific Council in the morning of 29 April, which was dedicated to the GI reform as well, focusing especially on three aspects: sustainability; role of regions and role of producer groups, enriching AREPO debate with some evidence-based recommendations.