AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRY : QUALITY LABELS: EP APPROVES NEW RULES.
Producers of speciality food products will now have to wait only six months instead of a year to see if their applications for protected EU labels are approved, according to new rules for quality products, which were rubber-stamped by MEPs in plenary, on 13 September. The rules, which were backed by 528 votes in favour and only 57 against, will also strengthen the role of producer groups to promote their protected products, such as the Italian cheese Parmigiano Reggiano.
Under the agreement, the European Commission must respond to registration requests within six months - rather than a year previously - while the time permitted for objections will also be cut. Food producers from mountainous areas will be able to apply for a new label recognising mountain' products, while labels for island produce and local foods could follow a year later depending on the results of a Commission assessment. MEPs were unable, however, to push through their request for enabling producer organisations to adjust supply and demand to market fluctuations. Instead, talks on a possible system for supply management will continue as part of the negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
French rapporteur Michel Dantin (EPP) has already tabled an amendment regarding the management of quality foods. Meanwhile, producers seeking the traditional speciality guaranteed' label - which safeguards traditional methods and recipes - must prove that their technique has been in use for at least 30 years rather than the current 25.
Other protected labels include the protected designation of origin' (PDO) and the protected geographical indication' (PGI).