Europe's historic vote to protect its wine legacy

Strengthening identities and promoting sustainable practices

2024-02-28

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In the heart of Europe, amidst the lush vineyards and ancient traditions, a monumental vote in the European Parliament has unfolded a new chapter for the wine industry. On February 28th, a significant reform to the regulation of the European Union's geographical indications (GIs) was approved, marking a pivotal moment for those involved in the production and marketing of wines with designation of origin. This reform, celebrated by European and national organizations representing these appellations, EFOW and CECRV respectively, not only underscores a commitment to protecting and promoting quality differentiated wines but also highlights the need to adapt to the evolving challenges facing the sector.

Crafting a New Legacy for European Wine

The reform, born out of a political agreement reached on October 24th, introduces several key changes aimed at bolstering the EU's GI framework. Among these, the "wine package" stands out, designed to safeguard the unique specificities of the viticultural sector. Furthermore, this reform inaugurates the first definition of sustainability for GI-protected products, reflecting a growing awareness of sustainable practices in viticulture's significance.

Another notable modification is the ability to block access to internet domain names that misuse geographical indications. This geographic blocking mechanism is crucial for protecting the integrity and value of the designations of origin, preventing consumer confusion, and ensuring that only genuine products bear these prestigious labels.

The reform also clarifies the competencies of the Member States and European institutions regarding the management of the GI system and its specifications. This clarity is essential for ensuring the effective and consistent application of rules across the EU.

Attached to the reform is a Political Declaration that mandates the European Commission to annually report any external assistance received in its administrative tasks, a move towards greater transparency and accountability. This measure has been warmly welcomed by the sector, as it fosters trust in the GI system and ensures resources are used effectively to support producers and promote quality.

Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, President of EFOW, emphasized the significance of this reform, acknowledging that the sector had not explicitly requested these changes. His perspective of transforming necessity into virtue and thanking co-legislators for recognizing the special role of viticulture in the GI system demonstrates a commitment to the sector's future. The promise to closely follow the reform's implementation and to request that the European Commission maintains a high level of transparency reflects a desire to ensure these new regulations effectively fulfill their aim of strengthening and protecting wine designations of origin.

This momentous occasion invites reflection on how designations of origin contribute not only to the economies of producing regions but also to preserving unique viticultural traditions and promoting the sector's sustainable development. The revision of the EU's GI policy is a step forward in adapting to current challenges, ensuring that the legacy and quality of European wines with designation of origin are maintained for future generations.

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