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Government decides on action to annul Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/1353 of 19 May 2017

Ljubljana, 21 July 2017 - The Government made the decision today to bring an action to the General Court of the European Union to seek the annulment of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/1353 of 19 May 2017 amending Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 as regards the wine grape varieties and their synonyms that may appear on wine labels (UL L No 190 of 21 July 2017, page 5). After the conclusion of the Government’s correspondence session, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dejan Židan, presented the decisions adopted. Mister Židan pointed out, inter alia, that the adoption of the Regulation constitutes an interference with the existing protection, resulting in misleading consumers and causing major economic damage due to the possible decline in sales and degradation of the existing protected designation of origin.

In his statement to the media, Minister Židan said that Slovenia would bring an action against this Regulation for annulment within the time period laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, since Slovenia considers the delegated regulation to be contrary to the fundamental principles of EU law. Equally, Slovenia believes that the European Union exceeded the scope of its powers referred to in the European Parliament and Council Regulation establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products. Furthermore, Mr Židan emphasised that by means of a delegated instrument, five years after the conclusion of accession negotiations the producers of one Member State would be granted an additional exception for labelling wines with the name of a protected designation of origin of another Member State without its consent. "In order to protect wine at the European level, there are prescribed procedures in place which the Member States must follow in the pre-accession and international negotiations, which was, however, not the case here."


Mr Židan further underlined that Slovenia was not informed that the protection of Teran was an unresolved issue. Upon the accession of the new Member State, the European Commission agreed on all exceptions regarding the labelling of wine, and set a transitional period for other wines in Implementing Regulation 753/2013/EU, adopted specifically due to the accession of Croatia to the EU. "This Regulation laid down the transitional period for clearance of wine stocks, which ended a year ago. Teran was not even mentioned at that time." By means of a delegated regulation, the breaches in relation to illegal labelling of wine – which Slovenia regularly points out – are legalised, while the Member State that should take action against those breaches is taking no action. "In the immediate vicinity of the Teran PDO wine production area the Croatian wine producers freely label their wine with the identical name, which they should not do, and this creates unfair competition and economic damage for Teran PDO wine producers."


The Minister drew attention to the fact that in the course of the entire procedure, the Commission has not disclosed Croatia's application, nor is the direct application for granting an exception for the Teran grape variety evident from the documents that Croatia published on its website. "The question arises as to what is considered an application for granting exceptions in the procedure for granting exceptions." At the end of the session, Mr Židan said that a Pandora's box has already been opened, as some Member States are expressing concern about the Commission's interference with other existing protections.


The Government today adopted a decision authorising Dr Roland Knaak, attorney at law, to represent, in addition to the State Attorney's Office, the Republic of Slovenia before the General Court of the European Union. Dr Knaak is an internationally recognised expert in intellectual property law and has already been involved in preparing the action, and will significantly contribute to the representation of Slovenia in the aforementioned legal proceedings.


On 19 May this year the European Commission adopted the Commission Delegated Regulation amending the Regulation as regards wine grape varieties and their synonyms that may appear on wine labels (delegated regulation), allowing wine producers from Croatian Istria to use the name of the Teran wine grape variety on condition that the words 'Hrvatska Istra' and 'Teran' appear in the same visual field and that the font size of the name 'Teran' is smaller than that of the words 'Hrvatska Istra'. The delegated regulation was published today (21 July 2017) in the Official Journal of the European Union.