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The European Parliament launches the reform of PDO and PGI

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The European Parliament launches the reform of PDO and PGI

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With 520 votes in favour, 19 against and 64 abstentions, the European Parliament yesterday gave the green light to the reform of the EU rules on geographical indication products, i.e. PDO and PGI food products, wines and alcoholic beverages. This is now a key sector of the European agri-food economy given that it has around 3,500 registered products for a turnover of 80 billion. A reform that is of great importance for Italy which, with its 880 PDOs and PGIs, develops a turnover of 20 billion, a quarter of the total. Furthermore, 50% of these products are sold on international markets.
A system that Brussels launched way back in 1992 when the segment of quality food products was considered a “niche” and which, also thanks to the positive regulatory interventions of the Commission, has developed over time, becoming a pillar of the European agri-food economy with significant repercussions positive on the products’ territories of origin. In Italy the “Dop economy” – according to data from the 2023 Ismea Qualivita Report on PDOs and PGIs – has 296 protection consortia, 195 thousand companies and over 890 thousand employed of which 580 thousand in the agricultural phase and 310 thousand in the industrial transformation phase.

And it is precisely with a view to a new development that Brussels has started this revision of the rules. A process in which Italy played a leading role thanks to the rapporteur of the reform project at the European Parliament, Paolo De Castro (Pd). “The new rules – De Castro explained yesterday – which after the Council’s latest green light will come into force in the first half of April, will evolve a system without equal in the world, capable of generating value without investing public resources. The main innovations are the strengthening of the powers of the protection consortia, the real drivers of the development of PDOs and PGIs, but also the fight against devaluing practices, the promotion of geographical indication tourism, the strengthened protection against counterfeiting at an international level, online and in the system of internet domains (which may be geolocalized and suspended). The quality system will also be protected in cases where PDO and PGI products are used as ingredients in other food products”. The new regulation will not lack a reference to what is becoming a watchword in Brussels: simplification. Requests for new registrations or changes to production specifications cannot take more than one year.

Among the merits of the new provision is also that of clarifying cases of evocation such as Croatian Prosek or Slovenian Balsamic Vinegar. In the future, a traditional term (such as the Croatian or Slovenian one) will never be able to follow (even partially) a registered designation of origin. Great satisfaction was expressed by the production world by organizations such as Origin Italia and Qualivita, from Afidop to Federdoc and Assolatte, from Cia to Coldiretti. “The objective of the new regulation – commented the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida – is to defend certified products from attempts at imitation and emulation. We must continue to focus on the quality and excellence that has always characterized us and on the distinctiveness that makes our agri-food production so special to the point of becoming unique on the global market. It is essential to defend our producers and the Italian system.”

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