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Minister Židan: "Slovenia's protection of Teran wine is legitimate."

Brussels, 28 February 2017 – Today at the European Parliament in Brussels Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Dejan Židan met with Czesław Adam Siekierski MEP and Paolo De Castro, respectively the Chair and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. In his statement to the media following the meeting, Minister Židan emphasised that "Under no circumstances does Slovenia have the right to bow its head and fail to fight for its rights." Yesterday, the representatives of Teran producers, who have united as a civil initiative in support of the protection of Teran wine, arrived in Brussels by bus. Today they were received by Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to whom they presented all the facts of the case, along with background documentation and their suspicions of irregularities, which could additionally help the European Commission clarify the matter and halt the process of adopting the delegated act. At the end of the d

ay Slovenia held an event called "Teran Wine – a Story of the Karst, a Story of the Future", at which a specialist public consisting of representatives of other EU member states working in Brussels, MEPs and other NGOs was informed about the particular characteristics of the production of this wine, which has PDO status, and its importance for Slovenia.

 

The purpose of Minister Židan's visit was to present his partners with Slovenia's position regarding the draft delegated act by which the European Commission intends to approve an exception allowing Croatia to use the name of the ‘Teran’ wine grape variety in the labelling of wines from Croatian Istria. First, Minister Židan met with the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Paolo De Castro MEP. The Minister set out all the facts regarding the production and protection of Teran wine and illustrated Slovenia's position with regard to the activities being conducted by Croatia and the European Commission in order to accept the Commission's delegated act, by which the Commission intended to approve an exception allowing Croatia to use the name of the ‘Teran’ wine grape variety in the labelling of wines from Croatian Istria. The Vice-Chair De Castro listened attentively to Slovenia's arguments, in particular to the doubts regarding Commission's procedural matters and the lack of transparency, to which the European Ombudsman has also drawn attention recently. The MEP supported Slovenia's efforts to protect its legally obtained right with regard to the protection of Teran wine and mentioned that some years ago Italy had a case regarding the Tocai variety, a name that Italy is no longer allowed to use in labelling its wines because of the Protected Designation of Origin status granted to Hungary for Tokaji wine.

 

Minister Židan began his meeting with the Chair of European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Czesław Adam Siekierski MEP by presenting a detailed chronology of Slovenia's activities to maintain the protection of Teran wine since the attempt by Brussels to establish an exception for Croatia was brought to its attention some years ago. Mr Židan highlighted the contentious nature of the procedure, in view of the fact that Teran is of exceptional importance for Slovenia, that Slovenia, as the holder of protection, was not even informed about the Commission's intention to grant an exception to Croatia, and that Teran was not part of the negotiating process in Croatia's accession negotiations with the EU. In their discussion they also highlighted the role of the European Ombudsman in cases where irregularities are identified, as is the case with the current procedure regarding Teran. The Ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament, and she also reports to it. As many as half of all the cases dealt with by the Ombudsman relate to alleged irregularities in the operation of the Commission. Minister Židan and Chair of European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Siekierski agreed to continue their talks on this important topic next week.

 

Following these meetings Mr Židan stressed that Slovenia's protection of Teran wine is legitimate and that Slovenia has never been informed about the exception that the Commission intends to grant to Croatia. According to the Minister, Slovenia has never been shown legible documentation with which Croatia formally requested the exception, from which Slovenia could see the arguments or even the content. "We should not forget that the Commission, as previously constituted, agreed with Slovenia's arguments; however, for reasons unknown to us, something happened with the change of the Commission that has relaunched the process of adopting the delegated act, in the face of all rules and the principle of transparency." How, asked the Minister, is Slovenia supposed to discuss, reply, or successfully defend its own interests if it is prevented from seeing the key documents with which a neighbouring country enters formal procedures with the Commission for the granting of an exception regarding wine labelling? "We do not even know what arguments the neighbouring country used to persuade the Commission that Croatian Teran is a wine grape variety and that they are entitled to label wine with this name." The Minister said that Slovenia does not understand this conduct and described as misleading the statements by Commission representatives that Slovenia has had time for negotiations and that Slovenia stands to gain the biggest advantage from granting the exception to Croatia. "Slovenia sees no advantage in the granting of the exception to Croatia; however, wine producers have warned of the serious threat to the Karst region if this exception should be confirmed."

 

At end of the day, Minister attended the event "Teran Wine – the Tale of Karst, a Story of the Future". On this occasion, a specialist public, in particular, the representatives of other EU member states working in Brussels, MEPs, and other NGOs were informed about the particular characteristics of the production of this wine with protected designation of origin, and its importance for Slovenia. A round table was organised the event, where recognized experts discussed the value of the protected designations of origin for the wine sector. A presentation and tasting of specialties from the Karst was organised at  the end of the meeting.