BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The new European Council Regulation EU N° 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs took effect on Jan. 3.
It provides a simplified regime for several quality schemes by putting them under one single legal instrument. Furthermore, it creates a more robust framework for the protection and promotion of quality agricultural products, the E.U. said.
The key elements of the new regulation include: more coherence and clarity to the E.U. quality schemes, a reinforcement of the existing scheme for protected designations of origin and geographical indications (PDOs and PGIs); overhauling the traditional specialties guaranteed scheme (TSGs), and laying down a new framework for the development of optional quality terms to provide consumers with further information, it creates and protects the optional quality term "mountain product". In addition, the commission is asked to provide a report on local farming and direct sales no later than 12 months after the entry into force of the new regulation.
In more detail, this means:
• PDOs and PGIs (excluding wines, aromatized wines and spirits which remain covered by separate legislation): Faster registration procedures as in particular the opposition period is halved from six to three months; the rules on controls are clarified; the use of the PDO and PGI logos will become compulsory for products of E.U. origin from Jan. 4, 2014 onwards; a legal basis for inserting third country GI protected through bilateral agreements into the E.U. register is created; a legal basis for financing the defense of the E.U. logos is established; and the role of producer groups is recognized.
• TSG: The scheme is simplified and strengthened, notably as in the future only the registration with reservation of a name will be possible. In order to be "traditional" proven usage on the market during at least 30 years (instead of 25) is now required.
• Optional quality terms: The optional quality term "mountain product" is reserved. The Commission is empowered to reserve new terms (and amend the conditions of use of existing ones) by delegated acts.
Also, the new regulation asks the commission to present a report to the European Parliament and to the council no later than Jan. 4, 2014, on the case for a new local farming and direct sales labeling scheme to assist producers in marketing their produce locally. Also, no later than Jan. 4, 2014, the commission shall present a report to the European Parliament and to the council on the case for a new optional quality term, "product of island farming".
The reports shall, if necessary, be accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals on the creation of a local farming and direct sales labeling scheme and to reserve an optional quality term "product of island farming,” respectively.