Geographical indications and traditional specialities in the European Union

Geographical indications and traditional specialities in the European Union

Protected names and designations of agricultural products and foodstuffs
Do the design and management of the geographical indications scheme allow it to be effective?

The preambles to the regulations cite consumer demand for quality foodstuffs, and identify a number of goals for the protection regimes:

The protection of geographical indications was extended to foodstuffs and other agricultural products in 1992. Given the widely different national provisions, this "general regime" gives much more power to the European Commission (compared to the special regimes) to ensure a harmonised protection across the European Union. It is currently governed by the Regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs (No 510/2006).

In other words, to receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and entirely manufactured (prepared, processed and produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

In other words, to receive the PGI status, the entire product must be traditionally and at least partially manufactured (prepared, processed or produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

The TSG quality scheme aims to provide a protection regime for traditional food products of specific character. Differing from PDO and PGI, this quality scheme does not certify that the protected food product has a link to specific geographical area and a product can thus be produced outside the area or country from which it originates.

For a food name to be registrable under the TSG scheme it must (a) have been traditionally used to refer to the specific product; or (b) identify the traditional character or specific character of the product.

A TSG creates an exclusive right over the registered product name. Accordingly, the registered product name can be used by only those producers who conform to the registered production method and product specifications.

Wódka ziołowa z Niziny Północnopodlaskiej aromatyzowana ekstraktem z trawy żubrowej

Article 13 of this legislation states that registered designations are protected against:

... any usurpation or imitation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or if the appellation is used in translated form or accompanied by terms such as "kind", "type"...

Besides dedicated agreements on geographical indications, mutual recognition of geographical indications is part of free trade agreements, such as Association Agreements (eg with Armenia, Ukraine and Moldova). Geographical indications are (following an objection period where GIs can be refused) furthermore protected in the member states of the 2015 Geneva act to the , to which (apart from the EU and some of its member states) also Albania, Cambodia, Samoa, Laos and North Korea are parties. However as of August 2021, the EU has not submitted any Geographical Indications for registration.

Note that the database contains both approved designations (status "Registered") and designations not yet approved (status "Applied" or "Published").

Somewhat paradoxically the PGS framework can be posited as both a protectionist move against global agro-economic policy, and a market-based neoliberal tool of agricultural governance. This makes it an equally important battle-ground for both the anti-globalization movement, and the free-trade proponents of Australia and the United States, and a number of criticisms of each have been put forward: