Allegrini 2018

Everyone, from CEEV to the “Prosecco System”, is against recognition of the Croatian term, “Prošek”

From European wine companies to Italian Consortiums, everyone agrees that the green light from the European Commission would undermine the PDO and PGI
Elvira Bortolomiol, Ugo Zamperoni and Stefano Zanette, leaders of the “Prosecco System”

The dispute between Italy and Croatia on the issue of the recognition of the traditional term “Prošek” goes far beyond the question between the two countries and time. The issue actually is worrying the entire European wine industry, which has been evidenced by the letter sent just recently, among many others, to the European Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, from CEEV - Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins. CEEV represents 24 National trade associations in 15 European countries (including the Italian Federvini and UIV- Unione Italiana Vini, which requested the intervention of CEEV, as well as the Croatian Wine Association of the Croatian Chamber of Economy).
The letter was signed by Jean-Marie Barillère, president of CEEV, who wrote that he is “extremely concerned about the aforementioned Croatian request, primarily because it jeopardizes the success of the European quality policy and its protection system, which is a fundamental tool of the Common Agricultural Policy to create, promote and safeguard value in rural areas. And, secondly, because it represents a real and concrete threat to the renowned PDO Prosecco DOC, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG and Asolo Prosecco DOCG (which have united in the association, “Prosecco System”, and they underlined the importance of a National committee to manage the issue, ed.). CEEV is the representative body of European wineries, and believes that the application for registration of the traditional term, “Prošek”, if accepted by the Commission, will endanger the internal and external dimension of the EU's PDO and PGI regime”.
The position of the European companies, therefore, is perfectly in line with those of the Italian companies, representatives and institutions, which immediately opposed the request for recognition.
“The EU regulation 1308/2013 establishes that PDO and PGI are protected against any usurpation, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the product or service is a translation”, emphasized the CEEV, “transcription or transliteration of the product produced. Furthermore, the European Union legislation emphasizes the need, in the case of homonymous names, to avoid misleading and confusing the consumer. The general principle of legislation on correct and fair information to consumers is reconfirmed in Article 7 of Regulation 1169/2011. We would like to recall the fact, that in 2013, when the “Prosecco system” sold 320 million bottles in Europe and around the world, the European Commission emphasized that the use of the traditional term “Prošek” could implicate a high risk of confusion for consumers. This reasoning has even more validity today, since the “Prosecco system” markets 610 million bottles per year, according to 2020 data. Additionally, regarding the concept of “evocation”, in accordance with previous judicial decisions, the Court of Justice has made it clear that it is verified whether in the case of products with a similar appearance there is a phonetic and visual affinity, and stressed that the decisive criterion is to ascertain that the consumer, in the presence of a disputed name, is induced to have directly in mind, as a reference image, the product protected by the PDO. As a first consequence, any recognition”, Barillère wrote, “will weaken the ability of the European Union to promote and defend its signs of quality vis-à-vis its main trading partners. I am referring above all to the free trade agreement with Mercosur, but also to the ongoing negotiations with Australia, New Zealand and Chile”. Moreover, according to CEEV, “the application for registration of the traditional term“ Prošek”, if successful, would pave the way for applications sent by third countries that put the European heritage constituted by our quality wines at risk. How will the Commission handle an application for registration of a traditional term, originating from a third country, which constitutes a translation or evocation of a famous European PDO or PGI, trying to circumvent the European system of protection of its quality marks?” is one ne of the many questions this case has raised and which await an answer.

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