Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Michael N. Cardwell
Chapter 13: The new European Regulation on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs
One of the most important strengths of European agriculture is its quality and diversity. Specific quality products, in particular those linked to geographical origin and/or traditional methods and/or ingredients used, make a major contribution to the living cultural and gastronomic heritage of Europe. The promotion of ‘added value’ production is seen in the EU as a key to securing the profitability of the farming sector and, in this context, agricultural quality schemes aim at the improvement of quality of life and diversification of the rural economy. However, according to both the limited economic research and critics, interventions are largely focused on just a number of niche products and have attracted only a fraction of total agricultural production. Further, the continuation of production of a diverse range of quality products is possible only if producers have adequate and effective protection and are fairly rewarded for their efforts. This is why over the past years agriculture in Europe has been moving to promote quality rather than quantity, at the same time seeking to give the farmer the role of guardian of the natural environment and of the safety and adequacy of nutrition. The first EU Regulation on geographical indications (GIs) for foodstuffs, Council Regulation 2081/92, was enacted to encourage the creation of high-quality agricultural products, responding, inter alia, to the traditional comparative advantage of certain European farmers in supplying higher quality agricultural products.
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