Written QeA to EU Commission – Restrictions to the free movement of goods – Bottling of Sardinian myrtle liqueur (Mirto di Sardegna)

An interesting Q&A with the EU Commission about the extent of GIs protection and requirements for the registration in the spirit drinks sector.

Question for written answer to the Commission,

Giulia Moi (EFDD), 30th October 2015

Subject:  Bottling of Sardinian myrtle liqueur (Mirto di Sardegna)

The Commission has still to recognise ‘Mirto di Sardegna’ as an agri‐food brand, despite the fact that the Italian Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies issued a decree to that effect in July 2013.

The decree laid down that this myrtle liqueur could only be bottled on the territory of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia in order to guarantee its quality and ensure that the consumer is provided with precise information as to its origin.

The Commission seems to be opposed to this clause on the grounds that this would infringe principles of free competition. However, it is widely-known that transporting this liqueur over long distances can affect its stability and vitiate the qualities and characteristics that make it a unique product.

Does the Commission not consider that if a product similar to Mirto di Sardegna were to deteriorate during transport this could be attributed to risks associated with bottling and damage the reputation of the whole industry?

Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission – 8th January 2016

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E-002992/2013 (1).

In the European Union spirit drinks are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 (2) and the Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2013 (3). According to these Regulations, restrictions such as the obligation to package the spirit drink in a defined geographical area constitute restrictions to the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services. They shall be allowed if the restrictions are necessary, proportionate and suitable to protect the reputation of the geographical indication (4).

Following a first analysis of the technical file of the Italian geographical indication (GI) ‘Mirto di Sardegna’, the Commission services asked Italy for clarifications in relation to the obligation to bottle the spirit drinks covered by that GI in the area of production. Italy’s reply is under examination. Once the scrutiny is finalised, Italy will be informed about the results.

 

(1) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html
(2) Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15.1.2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 (OJ L 39, 13.2.2008, p. 16‐54).
(3) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2013 of 25.7.2013 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks (OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 21‐30).
(4) According to the Recital 6 of Regulation No 716/2013 restrictions concerning the packaging of a spirit drink with a geographical indication, such as the obligation to package the spirit drink in a defined geographical area, constitute restrictions to the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services. Such restrictions should only be allowed if they are necessary, proportionate and suitable to protect the reputation of the geographical indication. Article 10 of the same Regulation states that if the technical file sets out that packaging of the spirit drink must take place within the demarcated geographical area or in an area in its immediate proximity, justification for this requirement shall be given in respect of the product concerned.

(Source: EU Parliament)

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