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States agree new EU legal framework for spirit drinks

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States agree new EU legal framework for spirit drinks

Spirit drinks

(BRUSSELS) - EU countries have confirmed agreement on a regulation on the definition, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks, including use in other foodstuffs and protection of geographical indications.

"Thanks to these new rules the most prestigious EU products such as whisky, brandy and vodka will be better protected," said Austrian minister Elisabeth Koestinger, for the EU presidency, "and consumers will be better able to make informed choices, thanks to clearer and more uniform production and labelling rules across the EU."

The new legal framework adapts therules to reflect the newly introduced distinction in secondary legislation between delegated and implementing acts. It also introduces new procedures for the protection of GIs of spirit drinks, modelled on the recently updated procedures for quality schemes for agricultural products.

The changes bring the sector in line with developments in the management of geographical indications for foodstuffs and rules on wine set out in the Common Market Organisation regulation (CMO).

The final agreement between the EU institutions will:

  • affect production rules by harmonising the maximum level of sugar content tolerated at EU level to ensure consistent quality of the same product across the EU. This maximum EU level will nonetheless be compatible with stricter national rules
  • clarify presentation and labelling rules, which will be aligned to the regulation on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC regulation), while maintaining the specificities of spirit drinks
  • lay down clearer rules regarding allusions or references to spirit drinks, especially in food products made with those products
  • foresee better protection for GIs against trademarks by granting 7 additional years of protection compared to the WTO agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (the so called TRIPS agreement)
  • preserve more traditional production methods

As the agreement has an important trade aspect, it will be submitted to WTO members for comments during a 60-day period.

The regulation will then be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and will subsequently come back to the Council for adoption.

The new regulation will enter into force 7 days after its publication on the Official Journal of the European Union (poss. Spring 2019) and its applicability would be delayed two years, except for certain provisions which would apply two weeks from its entry into force (mostly provisions on GIs).


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