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Promoting and protecting the tastes of Europe's regions and cities

EPP/CoR Policy Paper October 2014


Promoting and protecting the tastes of Europe's regions & cities As co-financiers of the rural development programme, LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES play an important role in defining, encouraging and supporting a sustainable development of the rural economy, including by creating favourable conditions for local and regional businesses and in the development of organic farming.

The quality of Europe’s agricultural and agri-food products is widely acknowledged and the demand for quality, fresh and local food is increasing across the EU. Regional products are sold by an increasing number of farms and it has become an important source of their income. The EU finances information and promotion campaigns about its farm products, manufactured foodstuffs and production methods both inside and outside the EU.

European Union farm products are unique in their quality and diversity. In an open global market, merely producing excellent food and drink is not enough. We need to increase our efforts to explain to consumers the standards and the quality of what EU agriculture puts on the table. EU programmes of this sort can really help our producers in an increasingly competitive world. Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development

THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY For the last 50 years the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been the European Union's (EU) most important common policy. This explains why traditionally it has taken a large part of the EU's budget, although the percentage has steadily declined over recent years. The CAP is financed by two funds which form part of the EU's general budget: • The European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) primarily finances direct payments to farmers and measures regulating or supporting agricultural markets • The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) finances the EU's contribution to rural development programmes. Under the 2014-2020 rural development policy, the EU will contribute over € 95 billion to investments in Member States. EU rural development policy has been constantly evolving to respond to the emerging challenges in rural areas. It is implemented through national and/or regional rural development programmes which run for seven years.

EU SUPPORT PROGRAMMES FOR LOCAL AND REGIONAL PRODUCERS The European Commission allocates roughly €50 million annually in financial support for campaigns to promote farm products and inform consumers about how they were produced. National authorities in EU countries pre-select campaigns for EU support. The rules of the scheme are laid down in EU legislation: Council Regulation 3/2008 sets out the framework, while Commission Regulation 501/2008 gives the detailed rules.

The Common Strategic Framework for the years 2014–2020 will help establish coordination and synergy between the activities of the five CSF funds – including the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - and to outline a clear strategic direction for partnership contracts and operational programmes. This should benefit local and regional producers, SMEs and consumers. Marek Woźniak, rapporteur on the Common Strategic Framework


EU PROMOTION METHODS FOR LOCAL AND REGIONAL PRODUCE Better information and promotion measures for agricultural products will enable consumers, in Europe and across the world, to learn more about the EU's quality and high production standards thereby building confidence in the products they purchase and consume. Pedro Sanz Alonso, rapporteur for information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries

By explaining to consumers the standards and the quality of what EU agriculture puts on the table, EU promotional programmes can help European producers in an increasingly competitive world. EU financing can cover half of the cost of a campaign. The professional organisation behind the campaign must contribute at least 20 percent of the cost and national authorities can provide the rest. Priority is given to programmes proposed by organisations from several Member States, for measures in several Member States or third countries. Products cannot be promoted on the basis of their origin, unless they come from a specific area identified under EU rules. Promotional activities can include advertising campaigns in the press, on television, on radio or on the Internet; point-of-sale promotions; public relations campaigns; participation in exhibitions and fairs. The new regulation will be formally adopted and enter into force on 1st December 2015. Europe needs an awareness campaign to highlight the wealth and diversity of aquaculture as well as to promote greater transparency in aquaculture product labelling. Marialuisa Coppola, rapporteur on the strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture

EU FOOD LABELLING AND PLACE OF ORIGIN The following EU schemes encourage diverse agricultural production, protect product names from misuse and imitation and help consumers by giving them information concerning the specific character of the products.

PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN - PDO: covers agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how. PROTECTED GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION - PGI: covers agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to the geographical area. At least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area. TRADITIONAL SPECIALITY GUARANTEED - TSG: highlights traditional character, either in the composition or means of production

New EU food labelling legislation will also apply from December 2014 with the aim of increasing transparency about the origin of food sold on the EU market.


ORGANIC FARMING Organic processed products should be produced by the use of processing methods which guarantee that the organic integrity and vital qualities of the product are maintained through all stages of the production chain.

According to the EU legislation, producers of packaged organic food must use the EU organic logo (as of 1 July 2010). Foods may only be marked as "organic" if at least 95% of their agricultural ingredients are organic. When the EU organic logo is used, the place of production of the agricultural ingredients must be indicated. I am disappointed with the Commission's action plan for three reasons: First, it has no specific objective in the form of a target for expansion of the sector. Secondly, the plan has no budget of its own, except the EAFRD budget. This is limited and there is a danger that a large part of the available money will have to be used for the compensation arrangements and thirdly, the local and regional dimension is missing. Willemien Hester Maij, rapporteur on the Policy package on organic production

OTHER LABELLING INITIATIVES

I welcome the European Commission's approach to adopt a strategy to help the outermost regions with product differentiation and specialisation for traditional sectors like agriculture. Malcolm Mifsud, rapporteur on the outermost regions of the EU in the light of the Europe 2020 strategy

With a view to ensuring greater awareness and consumption of quality agricultural products, whether natural or processed, which are specific to the EU's OUTERMOST REGIONS, a graphic symbol (logo) was introduced in 2006. Globally, an estimated 80% of food is currently produced and marketed at local level. In the European Union, this figure is about 20%. Does Europe need to consider specific labelling for local produce?

A report exploring the case for a LOCAL FARMING AND DIRECT SALES LABELLING SCHEME was presented by the European Commission on 6 December 2013. The report concluded that a voluntary labelling scheme could be a helpful additional tool for protecting locally produced food from imitations and for informing consumers about them. On 16 December 2013, the Commission also looked at the possibility of creating an optional quality term "product of island farming" and investigated existing EU measures and labelling schemes for marketing island farming products and for protecting them against misuse.

EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions www.epp.cor.europa.eu

EPP/CoR Policy paper: Promoting and protecting the tastes of Europe  

Policy paper outlining key developments and EPP Group positions for EU support to regional agricultural produce

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