The European Commission announced today (4 January) that it has adopted two proposals to streamline rules for protected geographical indications (PGI), protected designations of origin (PDOs) and guaranteed traditional specialitites.

There are currently 720 registered regional and speciality products, and this number continues to grow. With the hope of simplifying the registration process, the Commission proposes to simplify procedures and more clearly define the role of member states through a single document for applications.

The draft regulations are designed to comply with the 2004 findings of the WTO that upheld the integrity of the EU geographical indications system in the main, but called for the requirement of 'reciprocity and equivalence' to be dropped and that third country operations should be allowed to appeal to the EU directly.

"The Commission intends to implement a more efficient and fully WTO-compatible registration procedure for special products of this type," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "The system is a cornerstone of the EU's quality policy and our drive to improve the protection of geographical indications internationally. I look forward to working with Council and Parliament in order to meet the WTO deadline of April 2006".