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“Prosek” protection application in the Gazzetta, Prosecco has two months to object

Minister Patuanelli: “an inadmissible proposal, the Government is ready to fight in Europe. The danger of institutionalizing Italian Sounding”

As widely announced by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Wojciechowski, the application for protection of the traditional term “Prosek”, presented by Croatia, has been published in the Official Journal and now, as Coldiretti points out, “all interested parties will have a period of two months from the date of publication to present a reasoned objection that the Commission will analyze before adopting a final decision”. A green light that, according to Coldiretti, ruins the historic record of Prosecco exports in the world, which grew by 35% in the first six months of 2021, but also clamorously contradicts the recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which declared illegitimate precisely the fraudulent names, which instrumentally and deceptively evoke products with a designation of origin recognized and protected by the European Union, such as Prosecco, a giant that aims at 700 million bottles produced.

Now is the time to speed up the process, and it will be national politics that will have to take charge of this mishap, with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies Stefano Patuanelli in the front row. Speaking at the Chamber of Deputies, he reiterated that “the proposal for recognition by Croatia of the traditional term Prosek is inadmissible and the government will fight in Europe to have it rejected. The Italian reaction was immediate. In June”, Patuanelli recalled, “the EU Commission put a working document on the table that envisaged the application for protection of the traditional term Prosek and Italy had already expressed its clear opposition during the EU Management Committee meeting on 29 June because the term Prosek is the translation of the name Prosecco, which is at the heart of three Italian registered designations. Any authorization would therefore create a dangerous precedent for institutionalizing Italian Sounding. From the publication of the Croatian request, which took place today”, said the Minister of Agriculture, “the 60 days for submitting comments and objections have begun. However, I would like to remind you that, on the sidelines of the Florence meeting, I personally spoke about this with the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowsky, who assured me and the regional councilors who asked him about it that Italy’s point of view will be taken into due consideration. Above all, he stressed that the Commission’s objective is to strengthen the PDO and PGI system and certainly not to weaken it”.

Also from the government front, the words of the Undersecretary for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies with responsibility for the wine sector, Senator Gian Marco Centinaio. “The government is moving united and cohesive in defense not only of Prosecco, but of all Italian products, as Minister Patuanelli reminded us today in his briefing on the Croatian Prosek case. The whole Country System must fight for one of its most important excellences”, Centinaio commented. “We are working together to avoid what would in fact be an institutionalization of Italian Sounding. If the Prosek traditional mention were to be recognized, it would not only be damaging for a wine that represents exclusively Italian typicality, and the most commercially successful case in recent years, but would also set a dangerous precedent for all our denominations. We need to act quickly”, adds Centinaio, “all the more so since the application for registration was published today in the Official Journal of the EU. Italy had already expressed its clear opposition to the proposal at the end of June in the European Management Committee and the European Commissioner for Agriculture - during the recent G20 Agriculture meeting - had said that the issue was far from over and that PDOs and PGIs should be strengthened and not weakened. For our part, there will be a convinced and motivated formal opposition, also through the Technical Table set up at the Ministry. In support of our arguments, on the other hand, there is not only EU Regulation 33/2019, but also the recent ruling of the EU Court of Justice on the Champanillo case. United”, Centinaio concludes, “we reiterate our firm rejection of a decision that would penalize our territories, our producers and all our Made in Italy products”.

The Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) agrees with the line outlined by the Minister for Agricultural Policies Stefano Patuanelli and is ready to collaborate with the working group set up by the undersecretary Gian Marco Centinaio for the common defense at EU level, convinced that the Italian objectives are the same as those of the major European producer countries, because at stake is the credibility of the European model for the protection of agri-food products. This is why the EUIV will team up with France, Spain, Portugal and Germany to present motions against the Commission’s proposal. The Champagne Committee has already announced its opposition to the Prosek case. According to the Unione Italiana Vini - which represents 85% of Italy’s wine exports - the central issues to be raised in the formal opposition are those indicated today by the Minister: the name Prosek, which among other things, unlike Prosecco, has nothing to do with a geographical location, inevitably recalls, for a “normally informed consumer”, the bubbles of our country. As recalled in the recent “Champanillo” judgment of the Court of Justice, “the existence of an evocation can also be assessed with reference to consumers in a single Member State”. An obvious phonetic and visual affinity that is contrary to the protection dictates in force in the Brussels regulatory framework.

Reiterating that this wording should be considered unacceptable, as it is nothing more than an attempt to imitate the name “Prosecco”, which identifies a denomination of origin recognized and appreciated throughout the world, and that any attempt to emulate or weaken this name must be strongly rejected, Federvini calls for the immediate initiation of coordination between the representatives of the chain involved and the Government to oppose the application. In this perspective, Federvini recalls the European Regulation on the subject (1308/2013) in which - in Article 103 - it is established that any designation of origin, such as our Prosecco, must be defended against any attempt at imitation, even through simple linguistic translation, and against any usurpation, imitation or evocation, including any other practice that may mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product. “It goes without saying that the term 'Prošek', in addition to being clearly illegitimate, would be highly misleading for international consumers and penalizing for Italian producers’ exports”, explains Micaela Pallini, president of Federvini. “We are witnessing an assault on our culture and history, as well as on the clear evocation of one of our strongly identifiable products. Federvini is therefore asking us to react as a country system and, in this sense, hopes for the development of an action that involves all the representatives of the supply chain in coordination with the Government and, in particular, with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, Stefano Patuanelli”.

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