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Prosecco, the Prosek recognition request violates the rules: dossier to the EU Commission

Italy presented 5 reasons to reject the request, in a 14-page document, sustaining its opposition to the Croatian sweet wine
Prosecco DOCG: the strength of a district. It has grown even during Covid 2020

The Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, 12 days before the deadline, has sent its dossier of opposition to the application for protection of the traditional term “Prosek”, submitted by Croatia and published on September 22nd in the EU Gazette. “We are opposed, not because we fear those thousand bottles a year of Prosek, but because we fear a dynamic that would call into question all European PDOs and PGIs”, said the Minister of Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, at a press conference, together with the Undersecretary (responsible for the wine sector), Gian Marco Centinaio. Patuanelli, therefore, explained the cornerstones on which the opposition file is based, structured in 5 reasons to reject the request and 14 pages sustaining their reasons.
First of all, the Ministry compiled the dossier with the complete collaboration of the institutional and territorial entities and representatives of the wine sector, as Undersecretary Centinaio pointed out, demonstrating to the European Union that “Italy is not a fragmented, provincial Country”. The opening of the document opposing Prosek underlines the “incompatibility of rules on traditional terms, the proposed name conflicts with article 33, paragraph 2, of the EU Regulation 2019/33. Therefore, the question of the homonymy or partial homonymy between the mention Prosek and the PDO “Prosecco”, “Conegliano Valdobbiadene-Prosecco” and “Colli Asolani-Prosecco” or “Asolo-Prosecco must be raised, stating that” the term Prosek constitutes the Croatian translation of the name “Prosecco”, which corresponds in whole or in part to the name of the aforementioned 3 Italian PDOs”.
“Accepting Croatia’s request for protection of the Traditional Prosek Term”, underlined the dossier, “would be in conflict with Article 33, paragraph 2 of the Commission Delegated Regulation nr. 33/2019, which admits the coexistence between traditional terms protected before August 1, 2009 and, above all, would be in conflict with the principles on the protection of PDOs and PGIs established by article 103 of EU Regulation nr.1308 / 2013 of the Council and of the European Parliament, which constitute the prerequisite of said delegated regulation”. Further, n their first reason opposing the request, they state that in 2019, the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene were inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list and “this makes the recognition of the traditional Prosek term incompatible”. As a matter of fact, “there cannot be”, reads the dossier, “any kind of recognition (such as denomination or mention) in the European context in contrast with the Unesco recognition. Regarding the incompatibility of the recognition of Prosek with the Prosecco PDO, "the Treaty of the European Union states that the Union supervises the safeguarding and development of the European cultural heritage".
The second reason in the Italian opposition document states that the protection of PDOs and PGIs in the European Union and on the international level is a well-established and regulated task in the EU Regulation. Therefore, “all the authorities and institutions of the European Union and of the Member States, responsible for legal protection, management and controls, are required to ensure maximum protection for all registered PDOs and PGIs”, including, of course, “the three Italian PDOs referring to the geographical name “Prosecco”. The possible use of the homonymous mention Prosek”, the document continues, “would amount to, as well as an illegal use for similar products that do not comply with the Italian PDO regulations, also exploiting the reputation of and evoking the protected names “Prosecco”, “Conegliano Valdobbiadene -Prosecco”, and“ Colli Asolani - Prosecco ”or“ Asolo Prosecco ”. More specifically, “any use of this mention would constitute a false and misleading indication towards consumers, referred to in Article 103, paragraph 2, letter c of EU Regulation 1308/2013”. Minister Patuanelli observed “we are not worried that the fact in itself is dangerous, because the value and excellence of Italian products cannot be harmed, but we are worried because no one is guaranteeing us that the disciplinary will not be changed. Either you are able to protect PDOs and PGIs, or the system collapses”.
The third reason for opposing Prosek is a reminder that starting “from the moment of negotiations of the Republic of Croatia to access the European Union, Croatia had submitted a request for the protection of the Prosek Mention which, due to the opposition from Italy, was not accepted. The fourth reason cites the precedents of the Hungarian denomination Tokaji, “which saw”, Minister Patuanelli said, “Italy succumb. Similarly, Croatia must comply with the relevant European legislation”. Finally, the fifth reason recalls the maximum protection guaranteed to PDO and PGI by the ruling of the EU Court of Justice on September 9, 2021 on the “Champanillo” case. “There is no doubt”, the dossier emphasizes, “that this sentence constitutes and will increasingly constitute an important goal in favor of the European and International protection of Geographical Indications”.
“This battle”, commented Undersecretary Gian Marco Centinaio”, will be useful to protect all producers. This attack creates National damage. We are talking moreover of the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and Conegliano hills recognized as Unesco heritage; we are not talking, alas, of the Oltrepò Pavese hills”. The denomination system is a protected system, “observed the ministerial consultant, Giuseppe Ambrosio, “which must be protected. The outcry is widespread, as we know that the Spanish, French and German centers of interest are fierce on this, this Prosecco battle is the center of attention. Within 60 days”, added Ambrosio, “the Croats can submit counter-arguments to which, in turn, we can again reply and then the panel of Commissioners will make its decision. But I am confident and I believe that the affair will be definitively concluded by spring”.
At the presentation of the dossier opposing Prosek to the Ministry of Agriculture, there were also representatives of the various Consortiums for the Protection of the Appellations under attack, who commented to WineNews. Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, noted “the opposition is fair in order to protect the Italian system, but also the European and International denominations. Europe has been the teacher on this issue, and must continue”. Elvira Bortolomiol, president of the Consortium for the Protection of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, said, “it is important that the Italian denomination, as well as the entire European system that protects culture, landscape and products - a heritage that must be defended and preserved - is protected”. Ugo Zamperoni, president of the Consorzio Colli Asolani, called the opposition fair “because PDOs are one of the value ​​pillars of the European Union. Defending our culture, our agro-food products, today represented by the Prosecco brand, is a duty and I must say that I have seen, and I am happy with, a “Country System” that has reacted in a unanimous way to an attack that should not have even begun”. Finally, Marina Montedoro, president of the Association for the Heritage of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, said she considered the opposition a right and a duty, “because the denominations must be protected and the Prosecco Hills have also been recognized a Unesco heritage”.

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