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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Auditors slice into Commission management of GI scheme


Geographical indications (GIs) have been a familiar feature of this blog: in recent times we have discussed the virtue or otherwise of Darjeeling Tea and Lea Valley Cucumbers and all manner of culinary delights in between (see Katposts here and here). One topic which has not be canvassed in such detail is whether or not the European Commission effectively manages the current GI scheme.

Earlier this month, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) completed a performance audit and published a report. Three criteria were used: (a) the robustness of the control system defined; (b) the attractiveness of the scheme to potential applicants; and, (c) consumers’ awareness of it.

The overall conclusions and recommendations were stated in a press release:
"The audit concluded that overall, clarification is needed on a number of issues concerning the control system for the GI scheme and there is no clear strategy for promoting and raising awareness of the scheme amongst both producers and consumers: 
• the legal provisions do not lay down minimum requirements for Member States’ checks on product specifications;

• the regulation does not clearly define the Member States’ obligation to carry out
checks to prevent and detect disallowed practices;

• with the result that most of the national authorities audited do not carry out regular checks in view of detecting and suppressing these practices;

• the Commission does not monitor closely the implementation of the GI scheme in the Member States. No audits on the GI scheme have been carried out so far;

• the potential applicants are often not aware of the scheme or are discouraged by the lengthy application procedures;

• consumer recognition of the scheme and its symbols is very low.

The ECA makes a series of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the GI scheme. The Commission should set out minimum requirements concerning checks on product specifications and lay down clear rules for a control system that provides for regular checks to detect and suppress disallowed practices. The Commission should also develop a strategy for raising awareness of the GI scheme among potential applicants and consumers and for exploring more effective means of promoting the GI scheme to them".
The IPKat is interested to know if the harsh criticisms expressed by the ECA accurately reflect the experiences of readers in using the GI scheme.

Merpel, liking the finer things in life, believes that effective management in most contexts can be determined according to whether there is a constant supply of high quality Champagne and Parma Ham canapes ...

Thanks go to Miguel Angel Medina (Elzaburu, Spain) for alerting the IPKat's attention to this item.

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