EU becomes member of Geneva Act to protect GIs

The European Union (EU) has furthered its protection of geographical indications (GIs) for spirits after becoming the fifth party to ratify the Geneva Act, which will come into force in February 2020.

The Geneva Act was first announced in 2015 as an amendment to The Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin. The Lisbon Agreement applied only to appellations of origin, while the Geneva Act extended that protection to GIs.

As a result of a newly-signed political agreement, the EU will operate as a member of the Geneva Act, which will protect GIs on products such as Scotch whisky, Cornish pasties, feta cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

There are more than 3,000 names of food products from EU countries and non-EU countries currently registered, including more than 240 spirits such as Cognac and Polish vodka.

In 2018, the European Commission recommended that the EU should join the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement. The trading bloc then reached a political agreement for the act’s implementation in March 2019 and the EU became a member of the agreement in November.

By becoming a member of the Geneva Act, EU GIs will now get high-level protection in the future with other parties that are signed up to the Geneva Act. Signatories of the Geneva Act and the 1958 Lisbon Agreement include 28 members, of which seven are already EU member states.

Phil Hogan, commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said: “With this political agreement, EU geographical indications can have improved protection at multilateral level. It will complement the protection granted through bilateral agreements that already protects EU geographical indications across the world.”

According to Spirits Europe, GIs represent a significant value for producers in the EU, as two thirds of exports outside the EU are on GI products.

The Geneva Act will enter into force three months after five eligible parties have agreed to its ratification. As the EU is now the fifth eligible party to do so, the treaty will enter into force at the end of February 2020.


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Author: Owen Bellwood {authorlink}