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EU mulls expansion of GI scheme

Makers of Parma ham and Champagne already enjoy EU-wide geographical indication protection. Now the European Commission is considering whether to expand that protection to products such as Scottish tartans and Italian marble

Officials this week launched a green paper setting out why the Commission wants more products to fall within the EU’s GI scheme.

Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services 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.”

He added that protecting these kinds of goods with GIs could offer economic benefits to SMEs and boost Europe’s regions.

“This could help preserve our unique and diverse heritage, whilst making a significant contribution to European jobs and growth.”

At the moment, EU-wide GI protection is only available for agricultural products such as cheeses, wines, meats, and fruits and vegetables from a specific place that have certain qualities or which are made according to traditional methods. Non-agricultural products such as ceramics, marble, cutlery, shoes, tapestries, and musical instruments are not protected by GIs beyond national laws.

The Commission says that 14 EU member states have laws on GI protection for non-agricultural products. This lack of harmonisation means that non-agricultural producers who wish to protect a GI in the EU need to file for protection in each of those countries.

The EU’s consultation will be running until October 28.

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