Producers present new info about Croatia's forged documentation in Teran disputeBrussels, 28 February (STA) - Slovenian producers of the Teran wine presented EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan with new information about Croatia's allegedly forged documents in the protracted Slovenia-Croatia dispute over the wine, Marjan Colja, the head of the civil initiative for the protection of Teran, told the press in Brussels on Tuesday
Slovenia and Croatia have been at loggerheads over the use of the name Teran, to which Slovenia has the exclusive right under the protected designation of origin.
However, the European Commission adopted last Friday a delegated act that would allow an exception.
Under the act, Croatian producers will be able to use the Teran designation exclusively for the protected Hrvatska Istra wine and on condition that the name Hrvatska Istra on the wine label is bigger than the Teran name.
Colja said that the Slovenian side presented some new information to the commissioner. "It is mostly about the Croatian documentation, which is in parts forged. I must say that this was somewhat new information for the Commission," Colja said.
He explained that the group found out that heavily redacted documents sent to Slovenia by the Commission revealed the Croatian rules on the designation of wines were compiled from two documents from a period of ten years.
Slovenian producers also told Hogan that they would file a complaint with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The office will have to determine whether the Croatian documents, which were the basis for the Commission's decision, are authentic.
Colja added, however, that this would likely not deter the adoption of the delegated act. "I think there's virtually no other way," said Colja and noted that the commissioner told the producers from Slovenia that now was the time to present all their arguments that could change the Commission's decision.
"Maybe not everything is over after all," he said, as the context of the debate implied that the adoption of the delegated act could be stopped if the Commission found out that Croatia was dishonest in its dealings in the matter.
The initiative will now try to get all the documents. The Commission will likely try to find excuses, but "we can hope," Colja added.
The initiative will also continue preparations for a lawsuit against the European Commission at the EU Court.
Commissioner Hogan meanwhile told the producers that the Commission would continue vigorously defending the protected designation of origin protection and that it would take measures to prevent the abuse of the Teran name. Apart from that, Hogan expressed the readiness of the Commission to help Teran producers take advantage of the available promotion mechanisms, the Commission said after the meeting.
The Commission labelled the meeting constructive and friendly, as did Colja, who said the meeting with Hogan was "really constructive and positive". Agriculture Minister Dejan Židan was also in Brussels and focused in his statement on the European Ombudsman's criticism of the Commission's failure to disclose Croatia's documentation to Slovenia as the key new fact and turning point.
"It is clear now that the procedure is incorrect," Židan said, arguing the Commission now had three options: rejecting the Ombudsman's view, accepting it and stopping the procedure, or forwarding the documents to Slovenia and suspending the procedure so Slovenia can study them.
According to Židan, a lawsuit against the Commission at the EU court would be the worst possibility, but it is also still on the table. Slovenia continues to prepare for it, the minister said, arguing such lawsuits were not uncommon and often also end with victories for members states.
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