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Czech Permanent Representation contributes to debate on EU foodstuffs quality and origin

Date: 05 May 2010, Venue: Brussels

Another successful seminar on topical EU legislation, held under the auspices of Ambassador Milena Vicenová, focused on “Redesigning EU Quality Schemes – Opportunities for Agro-food sector”.

The main goal of series of seminars at the Czech Permanent Representation is to raise the attention and interest of all parties and stakeholders in general discussions during the preparation of new EU legislation, and to develop debate when the preparation of Brussels proposals culminates.

This time, over 70 representatives of all mayor parties and stakeholders exchanged their views and positions on the future of EU Quality policy of agro-food products.

A comprehensive view of the European parliament was presented by Giancarlo Scotta MEP, rapporteur of the respective dossier on Quality Policy review representing the EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Maria Angeles Benitez Salas, Director of Directorate H at the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, who is in charge of the main part of future legislative proposals, particularly shared the Commission’s views on the schedule of the follow-up work and the Commission’s perception on a variety of demands already presented in public consultations with stakeholders.

In the first session, dedicated to EU Quality policy schemes, the discussion mainly focused  on geographical indications. The debate was based on contributions from panel speakers: Paulo Gouveia representing farmers and their co-ops (Copa-Cogeca), David Thual from Origin GIs (the international organization of producers with geographical indication), Susanne Langguth, representative of European food and drinks confederation and Catherine Rogy from the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Other representatives of respective professional organizations presented complementary remarks defending their position in the presence of the European Commission, e.g. Antje Kolling representing Association of organic farming, Jean-Paul Angers from the Association of european wine regions and Miroslav Koberna, director of the Federation of Food and Drinks Industries in the Czech Republic, who spoke on behalf of Czech foodstuffs processors.

The second session concentrated on origin and place of farming labelling. Main contributions were provided by Robert Remy, representing European consumers (BEUC), Helene Simonin-Rosenheimer, representative of European Dairy Association and Marie Louise Flach de Neergaard from Food and Veterinary administration of Denmark. Complementary remarks were presented by Laurent Scheer (CEPS), Xavier Durieu  (EuroCommerce), Paulo Gouveia (Copa-Cogeca).

The seminar also served as a follow-up to the Ministerial Conference held in Prague in March 2009 under the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU. It revealed an overview on developments in positions of many stakeholders towards the future EU quality policy review.

Many participants confirmed that investing in quality is the key for securing a long term competitiveness of European agriculture and foodstuffs manufacturing, that existing systems of protection proved to be useful tools in some aspects, however need to be simplified and made more attractive and transparent both for their holders and consumers. An emphasis on common European approach on better promotion of European interests towards third countries was often articulated, in particular as regards geographical indications and possible ways of origin distinction of EU and non-EU produce.

Commission representatives confirmed the intention to conclude the internal assessment of EU Quality policy review by the end of the summer break and bring forward eventual legislative or soft-law proposals by the end of the year.


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Photo: Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU