Directive 2008/90/EC provides for, inter alia, the establishment of a national register — in each Member State which does not already have one — of varieties of fruit plants that are allowed to be marketed.
The Commission has already clarified, through Regulation (EC) 637/2009, that ‘a variety denomination shall be considered to mislead or to cause confusion if: […] it includes a geographical name that would be likely to deceive the public as to the characteristics or the value of the variety’.
1. Does the Commission not agree that the use of place names in relation to territories outside one’s own country is in itself misleading?
2. What does it intend to do about the complaint lodged against the Netherlands for having registered several varieties of hazelnuts bearing specific references to Italian areas?
3. Does the Commission know whether the same registration has also taken place in otherMember States?
1. The existing legislation on the marketing of varieties and variety denomination(1) applies only in the case of agricultural plant species and vegetable species. No rules as regards the inclusion of a geographical name in the variety denomination currently apply concerning varieties of fruit species. Those rules may be adopted pursuant to Article 7(3) of Directive 2008/90/EC(2). In the absence of those rules, the final decision on the denomination of those varieties lies with the Member States’ competent authorities.
In the case of an application for the protection of a variety, the Community Plant Variety Office will approve the proposed denomination in accordance with Council Regulation 2100/94/EC. When a variety denomination is identical to or may be confused with other designations which are commonly used for the marketing of goods under other legislation, a new denomination will have to be proposed.
Consumers should not be misled if a product with a label including a name protected under EU quality schemes that contains or comprises the name of a plant variety is placed on the market. The requirements established under Article 42(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 on quality schemes(3) should be duly considered.
2. The Commission investigates complaints in the light of applicable EC law and may open an infringement procedure against the Member State concerned. However, the Commission will only intervene if non-compliances with EC law are persistent, systematic or continuous(4) and not addressed through corrective action.
3. Information on the registration of the hazelnut varieties concerned in other EU Member States will become available when the EU variety register of fruit genera and species enters into force on 1 January 2017(5).
(1) Commission Regulation (EC) No 637/2009 of 22 July 2009 establishing implementing rules as to the suitability of the denominations of varieties of agricultural plant species and vegetable species (OJ L 191, 23.7.2009, p. 10).
(2) Council Directive 2008/90/EC of 29 September 2008 on the marketing of fruit plant propagating material and fruit plants intended for fruit production (OJ L 267, 8.10.2008, p. 8).
(3) Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, p. 1.).
(4) See Cases C-21/84, Commission vs France, C-387/99, Commission vs Germany, and C-494/01, Commission vs Ireland.
(5) Commission Implementing Directive 2014/97/EU of 15 October 2014 implementing Council Directive 2008/90/EC as regards the registration of suppliers and of varieties and the common list of varieties (OJ L 298, 16.10.2014, p. 16‐21).