ON THE MATTER OF “PARMESAN” CHEESE – GERMANY: THE CASE GOES BACK TO COURT IN LUXEMBOURG

The Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium applauds the decision of the European Commission to take the matter to the European Court of Justice

Reggio Emilia, July 7, 2004 – The European Commission has decided to take the “parmesan” matter back to the European Court of Justice following the refusal of Germany to safeguard the Protected Origin Name (DOP) “Parmigiano-Reggiano” and its translation “parmesan”. The Consortium and producers of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese applaud the decision resolved on June 30 by the European Commission and announced today, for the greater clarity that it should bring to the system of DOP safeguards.

“We are extremely satisfied by the decision of the Commission to pursue the matter with Germany before the European Court of Justice - said Andrea Bonati, president of the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese – because we cannot allow the image and quality of our celebrated cheese to be usurped continuously by a few German enterprises. These infringements violate the rights of the producers in our zone of origin recognized by European legislation, and add to the confusion among the consumers who are deceived about the origin and quality of the product they purchase”.

The European Commission opened an infringement suit on October 16, 2003, following a complaint filed by the Consortium regarding the continued use in Germany of the name “parmesan” for cheese that has none of the specific features of Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP and that absolutely do not come from its zone of origin. Certain German dairy industries usurp the name of this product in spite of the fact that the European Court of Justice had ruled on June 25, 2002 that the term “parmesan” is the translation of “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is one of the most well-know European products. It is covered by the safeguards of a Protected Origin Name (DOP) recognized by the European regulations. Article 13 of EEC Regulation 2081/92 safeguards DOP products and their translations against all deceptive uses, against all imitations or evocations of the name in the twenty-five countries of the European Union.

“The European legislation – says Leo Bertozzi, director of the Consortium – is very clear on the subject of our rights to the term “parmesan”; it is a name that is strictly reserved to our producers in the zone of origin of Parmigiano-Reggiano, who respect the specific discipline for the production of this typical cheese. We are sure the Court of Luxembourg will not fail to apply the law in full in this case and order the infringement on the German market to cease as regards the name Parmigiano-Reggiano” in its translation of “parmesan””.

Technical comments on the subject of the infringement procedure

On the strength of article 226 of the European treaty, the European Commission can decide to bring suit against any of the member countries which violate the EEC laws. The Commission undertook an infringement procedure against Germany on October 16, 2003. In the absence of a satisfactory response, at the beginning of April 2004 the Commission sent the German authorities a motivated notice, the second and last stage of the infringement procedure before taking the case before the European Court of Justice. Since Germany maintains its refusal to safeguard the DOP Parmigiano-Reggiano in its translation of “parmesan”, the Commission has therefore decided to petition the Court of Justice to order Germany to respect EEC Regulation 2081/92 and its principles.


Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Press Office and Public Ralations
in collaboration with Centro Stampa – Bologna

for contacts:
David Thual
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