Currently, protection of the geographical indication of food products can be sought at an EU-wide level where the indication identifies the goods as originating from a particular region or locality and where a given quality reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin. An obvious example would be champagne and consumers recognise that only sparkling wine from that region can lay claim to that name. However, whilst some similar protection for non-food products exists in certain individual EU Member States, this is by no means comprehensive or consistent.
Under the new proposals such EU-wide protection would be available to non-food products so that products rooted in traditional know-how and production methods could claim protected geographical indication status. Examples of the sort of products envisioned include Scottish tartan and Carrara marble and the European Commission has identified over 800 products which could be eligible.
The reasoning behind this is to provide consumers with the guarantee that such products are the genuine article and to protect businesses that produce authentic regional products from competition from traders marketing similar products under the geographical indication but which lack the cultural, social and economic heritage deriving from the traditional know-how and processes of the area. It is hoped that implementing an EU-wide registration process will secure fair protection, deterring unauthorised use, and that this could lead to an increase in demand for protected products, which in turn could boost local economies.
MEPs will debate the proposed measures on 5 October with a vote to follow on 6 October.