European Parliament - Mara Bizzotto’s Question & Answer: Creation of a European catalogue of food and agricultural products from the mountains

22 June 2016 - Mara Bizzotto – [E-005057-16] - Subject: Creation of a European catalogue of food and agricultural products from the mountains:

The system of designations of origin and geographical indications represents a vast economic and cultural heritage for the safeguarding and development of Member States' typical products.

In this context, products from the mountains are a further demonstration of quality and of the strong link between Italian and European excellence in agriculture and in food and their place of origin. In 2014, the Commission approved the optional quality term ‘mountain product’ (Delegated Regulation No 665/2014) obtained in mountain areas as defined by Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013, in a bid to enable mountain producers to boost and protect the identity of their products, which — despite their added value — are not protected by any specific quality term.

The increase in food counterfeiting damages the market in products with a designation of origin and misleads consumers, who are in fact calling for greater transparency in the sector of typical products, and the specific nature of food and agricultural production in mountain areas requires greater input by producers as a result of the particular natural environment in which they operate. In view of those facts, will the Commission create a European catalogue of mountain products to protect and promote excellent products in the mountain areas of Italy and the EU as a whole?

Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission (17 August 2016):

«Optional quality term ‘mountain product’ was established by Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs[1]. Its aim is to provide mountain producers with an effective tool to better market their product and to reduce the actual risks of consumer confusion as to the mountain provenance of products in the market place. According to Article 34 of this regulation, Member States must undertake checks, based on a risk analysis, to ensure compliance with the related requirements. In this way Member States are enforcing the respect of the rules and fighting counterfeiting practices.

Unlike geographical indications, the system of optional quality terms does not provide for a registration procedure at EU level. Hence, the Commission does not have a list of products using the term ‘mountain product’. Member States are not required to inform the Commission about the use of the term ‘mountain product’ on their territory either. Taking into account that the responsibility for implementation is conferred to the Member States, it is not envisaged that the Commission would create a European catalogue of products using the term ‘mountain product’.

Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming in Europe was presented in a study[2] from the year 2013 commissioned by the Commission.».