EU-wide protection for locally renowned non-food products
Small producers to be supported during registration process
National authorities to carry out checks
On Tuesday, Parliament adopted new EU rules protecting geographical indications of crafts and industrial products, inspired by similar rules for agricultural products.
The new rules on the geographical indication (GI) of the names of local craft and industrial products with specific qualities will protect locally renowned non-food products such as lace, glass, natural stones, jewellery or porcelain EU-wide and globally. They will close the gap between diverging national systems while increasing consumers’ awareness and strengthening producers’ competitiveness. The new scheme - already agreed on by European Parliament and the member states in May - was adopted with 616 votes in favour, 9 against and 6 abstentions.
Two-step registration process and help to small enterprises
The law unifies rules on the registration procedure, on the practical protection of geographical indications as well as on controls and enforcement. It foresees a two-step registration, starting at national level and followed by an examination of the producers’ application by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Member states will be able to choose whether they want to set up a national registration authority or if the EUIPO will handle the whole process. They will have one year to inform the Commission and the EUIPO which of the products already protected nationally should also be registered and protected across the EU. The role of the EUIPO was confirmed by the plenary vote on accession to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement today with 613 votes against 6 and 9 abstentions.
MEPs ensured that national authorities will help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to prepare their applications. Member states without a national authority will have to appoint a single point of contact to answer technical questions.
National control and enforcement
Controls and enforcement of the new rules will be in the hands of the national authorities. They will carry out checks, including of goods sold online, to ensure that products are placed on the market in accordance with their product specifications.
Rapporteur Marion Walsmann (EPP, DE) said: “With only one application, producers will benefit from EU-wide protection. We created an efficient application system with minimal administrative burden, particularly attractive for micro and small and medium-sized enterprises, since they will benefit from an easier application process and lower fees. This mechanism will not just help to raise awareness of traditional products from less-developed regions, safeguard professions in the craft sector, create new jobs and attract tourists. It will also ensure fair competition for producers, helping them to fight counterfeit products while reassuring consumers that they are buying a genuine product.”
Now Council also has to formally approve the agreement. It will then enter into force twenty days following its publication in the EU Official Journal. The regulation will apply two years after this date.
Renowned local food and drinks have been protected at the EU level for many years. While MEPs already called for the EU-wide protection of locally manufactured products in 2015, they intensified their push for new EU legislation in 2019, following the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act, allowing for the global recognition of local non-food products.
By advancing this legislation, MEPs respond to citizens' proposals from the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe on reducing the standardisation of products and recognizing cultural and production peculiarities as suggested in the proposal 12(3).