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C 374 E/88 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.

2000

The Commission will closely monitor future WTO notifications by the United States to ensure that
agriculture related expenditure is correctly classified under WTO rules and that commitments are
respected.

(2000/C 374 E/103) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0495/00
by Mauro Nobilia (UEN), Cristiana Muscardini (UEN), Sergio Berlato (UEN)
and Francesco Turchi (UEN) to the Commission

(24 February 2000)

Subject: Specific character of foodstuffs

It would appear that there has been a considerable delay in applying Regulations (EEC) Nos 2081/92 (1)
and 2082/92 (2) if it is true that, in the wake of the adoption of the basic 1992 texts, the first application
for recognition of specific character was received only in 1996.

More specifically, there are reports that certain such applications, made over a year ago, have received no
reply.

Given the important repercussions of the regulations in question, in terms of both economic and regional
competitiveness, can the Commission say:

1. Whether the above is true?

2. If so, what the real reason is for such delays?

3. Whether such delays depend on the complexity of the procedures or on the operational capacities of
European or national institutions?

4. Whether it thinks it would be appropriate to submit proposals with a view both to streamlining
procedures and to ensuring greater certainty in determining the procedures for the above applications?

(1) OJ L 208, 24.7.1992, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 208, 24.7.1992, p. 9.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(3 April 2000)

On 14 July 1992, as part of the reform of the common agricultural policy, the Council adopted
Regulations (EEC) Nos 2081/92 and 2082/92 protecting, in the first case, geographical indications (PGIs)
and designations of origin (PDOs) and, in the other, designations as a guaranteed traditional speciality
(TSGs) in the field of agricultural products and foodstuffs. These Regulations came into force on 26 July
1993.

Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 (PGIs/PDOs) provides for two types of registration: by the normal procedure
and by the simplified procedure. Under the simplified procedure, the Regulation gave Member States a six-
month deadline from the date of entry into force (or the accession date of the new Member States in
1995) to inform the Commission about designations already protected at national level which they would
like registered at Community level. The Member States sent the Commission more than 1500 names for
registration under the simplified procedure. It took the Commission several years to vet all 1500
applications. Following this vetting operation, the Commission registered about 500 PGIs and PDOs.
Some applications were withdrawn by the Member States (about 700) and more than 300 applications for
mineral waters proved not to be registerable because of a compatibility problem between the Community
rules on mineral waters and the Regulation on designations of origin and geographical indications. Of the
155 Italian applications under the simplified procedure, there remain two for which the procedure has not
yet terminated. These applications turned out to be particularly complex and have given rise to
voluminous correspondence and many bilateral meetings with Italy as well as multilateral ones with all
Member States.
28.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/89

Under the normal procedure, the Regulation lays down two successive six-month deadlines after
notification of an application to the Commission. The first six-month deadline (Article 6 of Regulation
(EEC) No 2081/92) is required for practical and administrative reasons (translation of the applications files,
canvassing opinions from other Commission departments, requests for additional information, possible
consultation of the Scientific Committee, etc.). The second six-month deadline, which begins with the
publication of an application in the Official Journal, is designed to give scope for objections (Article 7(1) of
Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92). This is because it is essential to know what the situation is in other
Member States regarding a product for which a Member State has requested registration at Community
level, as well as to give them an opportunity to object if they have a valid reason.

If there is an objection which deserves consideration, an additional three-month period is provided for
(Article 7(5) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92), in which the Member States involved can seek agreement
among themselves. If, on expiry of this period, no agreement has been found, the Commission then has to
draw up a decision to be submitted to the Regulatory Committee. These procedures are long and can vary
in length according to the complexity of the application, but it is essential to ensure that applications are
in conformity with the Regulation and that third parties’ rights are safeguarded.

Since the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 535/97, Member States have been able to grant transitional
protection at national level until a decision on an application for registration has been taken at
Community level. This is designed to protect the interests of the producers applying for registration.

Given the importance of the interests concerned and the need to ensure that Community registration
remains credible in permitting exclusive use of a name in market counting 373 million consumers, the
Commission does not think it is appropriate to propose lightening the procedure for registration of PGIs
and PDOs.

As regards Regulation (EEC) No 2082/92 (TSGs), the Commission sent the Council a report on its
implementation in July 1999. This report indicates that efforts are being made to improve the operation
of this Regulation.

(2000/C 374 E/104) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0496/00
by Mauro Nobilia (UEN), Cristiana Muscardini (UEN), Sergio Berlato (UEN)
and Francesco Turchi (UEN) to the Commission

(24 February 2000)

Subject: Consumer protection

According to the current rules on the labelling and presentation of agri-food products destined for the final
consumer, it does not appear to be compulsory, in certain cases, to indicate the place of origin of the
product or of its main ingredient; nor does it appear to be compulsory to inform the final consumer of the
fact that an agri-food product or its ingredients have been genetically modified. Moreover, according to
press reports, a voluntary information campaign has been launched by 60 producers and distributors in
Italy who have chosen to label their products as not being genetically modified.

If the above interpretation is correct, can the Commission state:

1. whether there are any reasons preventing the Commission from submitting proposals for amending
Articles 3, 11 and 12 of Directive 79/112/EEC (1) with a view to making it compulsory in all cases to
indicate on the label of a product destined for the final consumer the place of origin of that product
or of its main ingredient;

2. whether, the Seattle meeting of the WTO notwithstanding, the EU has had, is having or intends to
have talks with the USA with a view to drawing up regulations concerning products containing GMOs
or nutraceuticals;

3. whether it is aware of any genetically modified products being marketed in the EU?

(1) OJ L 33, 8.2.1979, p. 1.