THE ISSUE ON THE USE OF "PARMESAN" GOES TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE. EU COMMISSION AGAINST GERMANY

Consorzio di tutela, in the meantime, takes legal action against a German producer.

Reggio Emilia, 9th February 2007 - The battle on the use of the term "parmesan" is entering a decisive and final phase. On Tuesday 13th February, a hearing will take place before the European Justice Court in the context of the infringement proceedings launched by the European Commission against Germany. The Commission is taking Germany to Court for failure to implement the European regulation on the protection of geographical indications and, more specifically for the illegal use of the protected denomination of origin "parmesan" for cheeses produced in Germany.
At the Consorzio headquarters these are clearly days of intense work but underlined by optimism. "In 2002 - states the president Giuseppe Alai - the European Court of Justice clearly said and I quote "it is far from clear that the designation 'parmesan' has become generic. It is contended by all the governments which have submitted written observations in this case, apart from the German Government and, to a certain extent, the Austrian Government, and by the Commission that the French designation 'parmesan' is the correct translation of the PDO 'Parmigiano Reggiano'. We are confident because we have won several cases in the last years against companies that used to abuse the denomination "parmesan" and solved the problem in all the other EU countries. We are grateful to the European Commission for the protection of the PDO "parmesan" and, more generally, for its work in favour of geographical indications. We also want to thank the Italian Agriculture Ministry for its support and commitment towards the Parmigiano-Reggiano and all the other geographical indications".
"The European legislation - underlines the Managing Director of the Consorzio, Leo Bertozzi - provides for the protection of registered geographical indications also in translation. Should the Court rule in favour of Germany, the whole European system of geographical indications would be put in jeopardy. This could have immense consequences on Italian and European geographical indications, the strength of which come from their uniqueness and origin. Without prejudging the Court's decision, we hope for a positive ruling that will guarantee the future of the GI system which has been established by producers, consortiums and States thanks to years of work as well as huge private and public investments."
"In addition - insists Leo Bertozzi - what is at stake here is the efficient protection of consumers against any form of misleading advertising. It is interesting to note that in Germany, 88 % of the population aged 15 y.o and more believe that Parmesan cheese comes from Italy, which is the highest rate among analyzed countries in a survey conducted in several European countries in 2005.
In the meantime, the Consorzio - which will be supported on Tuesday by the European Commission, the Italian Government and the Czech Republic - has launched a legal action against one of the biggest German producers of hard cheese that abuses the denomination "parmesan".
On Tuesday, the Court is expected to set a deadline for the opinion of the Advocate General. The ruling of the 13 judges is expected within the year.