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C 284/62 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 14.9.


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Promotion of local speciality
agricultural products as a development instrument under the new CAP’

(98/C 284/12)

On 29 January 1989 the Economic and Social Committee, acting under Rule 23(3) of its rules
of procedure, decided to draw up an opinion on the ‘Promotion of local speciality agricultural
products as a development instrument under the new CAP’.

The Section for Agriculture and Fisheries, which was responsible for preparing the Committee’s
work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 16 June 1998. The rapporteur was Mrs Santiago.

At its 356th plenary session (meeting of 1 July 1998), the Economic and Social Committee
unanimously adopted the following opinion.

1. Introduction boost to its promotion can make the production system
and job situation more stable, thereby helping to raise
the living standards of the local population and providing
valuable support for rural development, by means of
1.1. The Agriculture and Fisheries Section’s visit to integrated local development policies.
the Douro region in Portugal on 18 and 19 September
1997 impressed upon it the need to promote and publicize
local speciality agricultural products. Accordingly, the
Economic and Social Committee decided to draw up an
own-initiative opinion dealing with the promotion of 2. General comments
these products as a development instrument under the
new CAP.
2.1. European agriculture not only has the task
of producing wholesome, quality food and non-food
1.2. The increasing standardization of the character- products. It also plays a key role in land-use and
istics of many food products is both a consequence of development, maintaining jobs, and giving a boost
and an incentive for the marketing of a greater profusion to rural areas, local culture and traditions, natural
of products. However, it can also have an impact on resources, the environment and the beauty of the
the number of products which have specific features countryside.
associated with their place of origin and whose particular
production methods and increasing guarantees of quality
are difficult to copy. 2.2. The identity of European farming is rooted in an
equilibrium between people, production and the land,
its human dimension and cultural heritage.
1.3. Original manufacturing methods are used to
make premium local products from quality raw
materials. The appearance and specific taste of these 2.3. Against a background of increasing market
products make them more appealing than other similar liberalization, and as part of the new direction given to
products, and are always associated with a particular the Common Agricultural Policy, there is a need to
region. diversify farm production so as to strike a better balance
between supply and demand.

1.4. These products are often manufactured under 2.3.1. The Commission estimates that present-day
circumstances which are difficult or impossible to production of quality local products constitutes a mere
replicate outside their place of origin, and unless these 10 % of European agricultural production and 20 % of
specific circumstances and features are recognized and value added. If these figures could be increased, these
protected, it will be difficult for them to remain available products could secure a significant market share and
on the market, since such recognition is vital to their provide the key to economic progress in less-favoured
value added; this, in turn, is of benefit to all links in the rural areas. The new agricultural policy reform currently
chain, particularly the farmers. under discussion should bear this in mind.

1.5. Once a product is recognized as a premium 2.4. Europe does produce limited amounts of agricul-
product, it is easier for it to obtain value added. This tural products whose place of origin and specific
14.9.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 284/63

production methods distinguish them from other similar producers via cooperatives and similar organizations
products on the market; these premium products favour could make a major contribution to this.
quality over mass production.
2.6.3. Over and above the value derived from the
2.4.1. If consumer demand for quality products is to very fact that product names (be they geographical or
be increased, it will be necessary for these products traditional) are protected, there is the further advantage
to be safe, have a characteristic taste, texture and that production is covered by a set of rules which
appearance of their own, keep their taste and other producers themselves have helped to put together, thus
characteristics to a high degree, be subject to reliable voluntarily undertaking to comply with them. This helps
quality control and be different to other products of the all members of the production and distribution chain
same type. to work together, and to apply effective inter-trade

2.4.2. Since the production processes of quality local
products use traditional techniques and recipes, they do 2.6.4. The positive effects of these Community instru-
not need additional precautions or treatment, nor do ments have already become clear, in terms of improve-
they employ methods or products harmful to the ments in some manufacturing conditions, support from
environment. This helps to boost consumer confidence an increasing number of producers, compliance with
in them. natural manufacturing conditions, respect for the
environment, and higher incomes for producers.

2.5. The promotion and development of these prod- 2.6.5. Improvements have also been apparent in
ucts may prove an important asset for rural areas, marketing, especially in the care put into the packaging
particularly less-favoured and peripheral areas and and presentation of products, making them more appeal-
upland areas (from where 80 % of these products ing to the consumer, with the result that an increasing
originate). The resulting cultural boost can be a share of the market is being won over.
determining factor in sustainable rural development, the
stabilization of local populations and job creation.
2.6.6. One significant aspect is the growing number
of commercial outlets interested in these products,
2.5.1. Despite the fact that quality products may especially supermarkets, where great pains are taken to
benefit from technological innovations and labour- make an attractive display of such products; this
saving methods, production is labour-intensive because highlights the quality policy pursued by some of these
of the precise nature of the work and the processes that outlets.
have to be used.

2.7. In 1992 the European Community set up schemes
2.5.2. Often this can mean that more people have to for promoting and protecting geographical designations
be employed in the manufacture of these products, (PDO and PGI) and traditional specialities (TSG).
which in turn means greater value added.

2.7.1. What is a PDO?
2.6. Two Community legal instruments have proved
valuable in promoting premium agricultural production. Protected designation of origin (PDO) is the
These are Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 on the protec- label given to a product produced, processed and
tion of geographical indications and designations of prepared in a defined geographical area, using recognized
origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs and and proven know-how.
Regulation (EEC) No 2082/92 on certificates of specific
character for agricultural products and foodstuffs. In the interests of consumers, the PDO may
be replaced by equivalent traditional labels (AOC in
2.6.1. For wine, quality criteria and designations of French, DOC in Italian) or by the Spanish ‘denominación
origin are set out in a separate Council Regulation de origen’, and the Portuguese ‘denominação de origem
— (EEC) No 823/87 — which lays down special controlada’.
provisions relating to quality wines produced in specified
2.7.2. What is a PGI?
2.6.2. Although many products have already been
granted a designation of origin and geographical indi- Protected geographical indication (PGI)
cation, they cannot become competitive without supply means that there is a link with the geographical
consolidation, technological modernization and suitable environment in at least one of the stages of production,
marketing techniques. Regional development projects processing or preparation. In this case the reference to
should cater for these aspects. Cooperation between PGI can be on the packaging.
C 284/64 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 14.9.98

2.7.3. What is a TSG? 3.5. In spite of the major technological advances
which have taken place since the 18th century, the A traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) processes employed in producing the wine have allowed
does not refer to the origin, but is designed to highlight a balance to be maintained between farming and the
a product’s traditional composition or production environment.

2.8. Consumers’ growing preference for high-quality 3.6. The narrow terraces only allow the use of
foodstuffs brings a need to publicize the existence of traditional, highly labour-intensive techniques. The
these products adequately; in many cases they are only optimum use made of exposure to the sun and the
known about and appreciated by small groups of people. combined effect of soil quality and solar radiation enable
these vineyards to produce the generous, high quality
2.8.1. Since certain aspects of the CAP may make it port wines that they do.
difficult for some of these products to survive and
penetrate the market, there is a need for promotional and
publicity campaigns within and outside the Community; 3.7. One element which has changed is that the layout
campaigns of this type could benefit from Community of the terraces has been adapted to the need for
funds available for this purpose, by using appropriate mechanized tillage, creating pathways at the ends of the
stock-taking techniques and raising public awareness of terraces which the equipment can use without, however,
production processes. The aim would be to generate visibly altering the landscape.
consumer interest in these products and encourage
consumers to purchase them more frequently.

3.8. In contrast to the vine-clad hillsides, there are
3. A case in point: the port-wine region also ‘withered’ terraces abandoned after the vines were
devastated by phylloxera. These terraces are now
overgrown or, in places, have been used for recent forest
3.1. There are undoubtedly many examples of local landscaping projects.
speciality products throughout the European Union:
witness the high number of products already registered
as such.
3.9. Secondary to the vineyards, semi-intensive horti-
3.1.1. The broad aim of this opinion is to laud the cultural and fruit-growing businesses are being
virtues of local speciality products in general. However, developed in the region. These have a considerable
in this section we shall confine our comments to port impact on the traditional farm economy, although they
wine and the area in which it is produced, the Douro only take up small areas of land. This type of farming,
region. in sheltered valleys, is complementary to the vineyards
and vital for maintaining a balanced livelihood.
3.2. The Douro region, with the particular way it
manages its vineyards to produce a wine of world-wide
renown, was the first ‘registered designation of origin’ 3.10. The specific features of the port wine region
in the world (the designation dates from the second half were neatly described by the American geographer, Dan
of the 18th century). The area is a textbook example of Stanislawski, in 1970, as follows:
how the ingenuity, ability and hard work of a local
population can transform an undeveloped rural region
into a premium production area. ‘Port Wine is a great wine because it is the product
of long experimentation, meticulous attention to
details, and strict controls; and no Portuguese
3.3. The officially demarcated region of the Douro vineyardist would doubt that the environment of
has a typically Mediterranean climate with hot, dry the Douro valley, its place of origin, has played an
summers and relatively low annual rainfall; it is no more important part in its ultimate character. It is an
than a narrow strip of land running along the Douro aristocrat among the highly elaborated agricultural
valley, upstream from Barqueiros to the Spanish border. products of the world: no grape used in it has not
been subjected to rigorous inquiry into its birth and
3.4. Here, a very special set of features have developed upbringing, its current circumstances, companions,
in the area around the Douro river, upstream from habits and appearance. Up to that point the
Armamar and in the sheltered valleys along the river- assumption is made that place of birth and
banks; the planting of vines in the schistous soil of subsequent care are a sine qua non; but as
hillsides which, until then, were nothing more than everyone knows, there are well-born, well-schooled
scrubland, was begun in the 17th century. The structure mediocrities within any select group, and objective
of stepped terraces, designed to shore up the earth, tests must be made to eliminate all but those of
reflects intense human activity which has continued in proven excellence. Such tests are made by tasters,
the way the system has been used, and has forged unique experienced judges uninformed as to the birthplace
rural landscape of great beauty, thus establishing a very or antecedents of the objects of their appraisal.
close relationship between product quality and the They must pass on all wines; and normally they
beauty of the landscape. accept only about one-third of the production of
14.9.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 284/65

the zone. The other two-thirds is sold as ordinary training so as to help maintain or increase production
table wine or made into brandy’ (1). flows.

4.2. It has already been noted that 80 % of quality
3.11. Living conditions of the Douro region popu- local products come from less-favoured upland areas.
lation and their dependence on the wine-producing This can be seen, in a rather bizarre sociological way,
system as an act of historical and geographical revenge by
3.11.1. Despite the fact that this is a region where the
environment is not very propitious to farming, the types 4.3. There are of course further examples of this
of farming employed allow a population density of phenomenon in other countries of the European Union,
57 inhabitants per square kilometre. Most farms are as can be seen from the high number of products
small; 8 000 wine growers produce between five and registered under the PDO, PGI and TSG labels.
15 hectolitres, 15 000 produce up to 25 hectolitres and
10 000 produce more than 25 hectolitres. The area has 4.4. As early as 1989, in its opinion on the future of
no mineral resources, nor is there any industrial activity rural society, the Committee stressed that ‘a comprehen-
of note. Wine thus constitutes the main source of income sive quality policy is needed’ and that ‘in most less-
for the local population, and the value added from the favoured regions quality products have a tradition that
quality product which is port wine is of unquestionable must be maintained and developed’ (2).
importance for the region’s income.
4.5. In this own-initiative opinion drawn up against
3.11.2. Thus, in this difficult region, the local popu- the background of a new CAP, when Agenda 2000
lation has managed to establish a farming system which promises another period of great change for European
does not harm the environment but actually protects it, farmers, the Committee calls on the Commission to put
creating a humanized landscape with such special into practice effective measures and methods to promote
features that it has been proposed that it be classified quality local products which are an integral part of the
a world heritage site, as it is a cultural landscape Community’s historical and cultural heritage. Demand
representing the combined work of nature and man. for premium products will only increase if consumers
can be sure that they are safe and of high quality.

4. Conclusions 4.6. These measures must include steadfast moves to
defend local speciality products in GATT and WTO
negotiations, as was the case in the 1994 Marrakesh
4.1. Local speciality products have, in some regions, Agreements (Articles 23 and 24).
contributed to the well-being of local populations,
sustainable rural development and the promotion of 4.7. Use of designations of origin for product imi-
rural tourism. Most importantly, they have encouraged tations made outside the official place of origin, such as
young people to remain in rural areas, playing a concrete port, chianti, champagne, parmesan and many others
part in the preservation of cultural values. must not be allowed. International rules on intellectual
property must be used to prevent third countries
4.1.1. It would be helpful if this process could
appropriating designations of origin or marketing desig-
be made more widespread, by improving vocational
nated products. No country, region or product within
or even outside the European Union has the right to
(1) This last statement was true thirty years ago. Technical
usurp something which has been built up at great effort
progress and innovation have meant that a large part of by manufacturers of quality local products.
the must not used for port wine is nowadays used in the
production of high quality table wines. (2) OJ C 298, 27.11.1989, p. 32.

Brussels, 1 July 1998.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee