Trade Resources Economy The European Commission Has Launched a Green Paper Consultation

The European Commission Has Launched a Green Paper Consultation

The European Commission has launched a Green Paper consultation on a possible extension of geographical indication protection to non-agricultural products.

In today’s globalised world, consumers are looking for ways to identify authentic, original products, and expect that the quality and specific features advertised actually correspond to reality.

A geographical indication (GI) identifies goods as originating from a country, region or locality where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is linked to its geographical origin, for example Bordeaux wine, Murano glass or Parma ham. Agricultural products (e.g. cheeses, wines, meats, fruits and vegetables) from a specific geographical origin possessing certain qualities or made according to traditional methods may be afforded EU-wide GI protection (e.g. Parmesan cheese). However, non-agricultural products (e.g. ceramics, marble, cutlery, shoes, tapestries, musical instruments) do not to date enjoy unitary GI protection at EU level beyond national laws.

Commission Vice-President for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said, "The European Union is rich in products based on traditional knowledge and production methods, which are often rooted in the cultural and social heritage of a particular geographical location, from Bohemian crystal and Scottish tartans to Carrara marble to Tapisserie d’Aubusson.

“These products form not only part of Europe’s knowledge and skills, but they also have a considerable economic potential, which we may not be exploiting fully. Extending EU-wide GI protection to such products might bring considerable potential benefits to SMEs and European regions. This could help preserve our unique and diverse heritage, whilst making a significant contribution to European jobs and growth.”

The Green Paper consists of two parts. The first part asks about the current means of protection provided at national and EU level and the potential economic, social and cultural benefits that could be achieved by improved GI protection in the EU. The second part includes more technical questions to seek the views of interested parties on possible options for EU-level GI protection for non-agricultural products. The possible objectives for any new measures range from fulfilling the minimum requirements on GI protection set up by the Agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) to providing additional criteria for protection like those included in EU legislation on agricultural GIs.

All interested stakeholders – from consumers to producers, and distributors to local authorities – are invited to send their comments and suggestions by 28 October 2014. The Commission will publish the outcome of the consultation and will take it into account when considering if further action is appropriate at EU level.

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European Commission Launches Green Paper Consultation