Luxembourg: The latest European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) performance audit concluded that overall, clarification is needed on a number of issues concerning the control system for the geographical indications (GI) scheme and there is no clear strategy for promoting and raising awareness of the scheme amongst both producers and consumers. Its conclusions include:
– The legal provisions do not lay down minimum requirements for Member States’ checks on product specifications;
– The regulation does not clearly define the Member States’ obligation to carry out checks to prevent and detect disallowed practices;
– With the result that most of the national authorities audited do not carry out regular checks in view of detecting and suppressing these practices;
– The Commission does not monitor closely the implementation of the GI scheme in the Member States. No audits on the GI scheme have been carried out so far;
– The potential applicants are often not aware of the scheme or are discouraged by the lengthy application procedures; and
– Consumer recognition of the scheme and its symbols is very low.
The GI scheme aims to protect product names which are registered as Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication, whose overall wholesale value is estimated at EUR 15 billion annually. The scheme also provides a potential economic opportunity for farmers and producers of food and can have a positive impact on the rural economies of the European Union’s (EU) regions, as well as offer an impetus for safeguarding local culture and tradition and provide consumers with the opportunity to be more aware of the origin of the products they consume.