3 February 2020 News

EC Consultation on EU quality Schemes: AREPO presents its position paper

EU quality policy should be considered as a public policy aiming at delivering public goods to the whole European society, especially in terms of sustainable rural development, growth and employment, diversification of rural economy, protection of natural resources and landscape, welfare of farm animals, food security, food safety and traceability. However, Geographical Indications (GIs) enormous potential in delivering public goods is still underutilized in the EU and a renewed attention from policy makers is needed to unlock it.

As a result, AREPO welcomes the prominent role assigned to GIs by von der Leyen Commission and the initiative of the public consultation for evaluating EU food quality schemes. In order to contribute to the consultation, AREPO has elaborated a position paper assessing their effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and coherence through the localised agro-food systems (LAFS) approach, and providing some evidence-based policy recommendations.

The document analyses the trade-off between costs and benefits of EU quality schemes, in order to understand the added value of EU quality policy as well as what is limiting its potential. In this regard, the paper provides for suggestions to simplify and strengthen EU quality schemes, in particular as concerns GIs protection and control (also on the internet); the procedure for amendments to products’ specifications; the role of GIs producers; and the need for further harmonization among MS.

Furthermore, AREPO put forth several inputs on how to improve the coherence among EU policies concerning the agro-food sector, especially between EU quality policy and CAP. In this framework, the position paper stresses the importance of the support for GIs producer groups, especially for carrying out evaluation of the impact of registering a new GI, for operating costs, and for all the activities related to the surveillance of the enforcement of the protection of the registered names. Plus, the document reiterates that the support for certification and promotion activities must be open to all producers participating in an EU quality scheme.

Since there appears to be limited understanding and recognition of EU quality schemes on the consumer side, strategies to improve consumer awareness and valuation of quality schemes are needed as well as tools assuring more transparency and easier access to readable information concerning product specifications and characteristics. To this end, maintaining a sizable budget dedicated to products covered by the EU quality schemes within Promotion policy is essential. Furthermore, it is significant to assure the right place to GIs within the EU trade policy, especially in the light of their annual turnover and export value.

Concluding remarks in our paper focus on the importance to include EU quality schemes in EC strategic approach to EU agricultural R&I, assuring more funds and dedicated project calls, as well as on the need of supporting the creation of educational curricula and training for GIs experts and professionals.

For more information on AREPO policy recommendations in the context of EC public consultation on the evaluation of EU Quality Schemes, we invite you to read our position paper.