spiritsNEWS May 2019

Protection of Geographical Indications (GIs): Europe at its very best!

The famous Spirits Drink Regulation 110/2008 has finally been revised and aligned to the Lisbon Treaty. This Regulation lays down the rules on definition, description, presentation and labelling of the 40+ spirit drinks that exist across Europe (eg, whisky, gin, rum, vodka, to name but a few – see all of them here). The list of Geographical Indications (GIs) for spirits drinks that are recognised and protected in Europe is included in Annex III. The new Regulation will enter into force two years after the publication (foreseen for 17 May 2019), yet rules on GI protection will enter into force already two weeks after publication.

So what is the difference between spirit categories and spirit GIs? Here’s the example…of “Whisky/Whiskey – that’s the name of the category. Within this category, a number of countries have registered GIs such as Scotch Whisky in the UK (Scotland) or Irish Whiskey in Ireland. A GI thus figures as a distinctive sign to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other characteristic (defined in a technical file) is linked to its geographical origin. Spirits producers have to comply with both the (broader) rules of the spirit category and the (much stricter) rules of the technilc file for the GI protection. Another example is the “Wine Spirit” category, under which Cognac is a GI registered in France. Under the Vodka category, you have the famous “Polish Vodka” or “Swedish Vodka” GIs. They are distinctive by the process, raw material used, and region in which they are produced.

Until recently, 330 GIs were registered and protected in Europe. A revision process of that list started in 2015 when Member States were invited to submit technical files for each of the GIs they had (or to introduce new ones). By the deadline, 243 files had been received. They were all examined over the last 3 years by the Commission and on 27 March the Commission published a new list of 234 GIs. Curious to discover which ones are from your region? Click here for the answer.

Although the number of spirit GIs has ‘fallen’ from 330 to 234, GI registration is a lively and dynamic process as we know the Commission has received over the last couple of years about 25-30 new applications. Before Summer 2019, all the spirits GIs will be available in a new online database.

spiritsEUROPE would like to thank the European Commision and DG AGRI for having carried out this complex process, ending with a list of spirits GIs which will continue to enjoy the necessary legal protection against fake products. People all over the world know about our GIs and want to buy them. In fact, they represent two thirds of our exports outside the EU! By definition, GI production cannot be “delocalized” and therefore is a source of growth and jobs in the regions where they are produced, attracting tourists to distilleries to the benefits of rural communities.

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