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Georgia Wines Win Coveted EU 'Indications'

A Georgian wine festival in Tbilisi in May.
A Georgian wine festival in Tbilisi in May.
Georgia can toast a tiny step toward EU integration with its signing on July 14 of an agreement on the protection of geographical indications, the first ever between Brussels and a country within the EU's neighborhood policy.

The indication is a type of intellectual property right for a product -- usually an agriculturally based good -- that indentifies its geographical origin. It can be a town, as with "Parma ham"; a region, such as "Cognac" or "Champagne"; or, in certain cases, a country. (The most obvious example is Greek feta cheese. Even though not named after a specific place, it has been identified as an inherently Greek product.)

The point of the deal is that a certain product may only be sold in the EU market under the name of a geographical area if it was truly made there. Some 3,000 agricultural products have been registered for protection in the EU, and now 18 Georgian wines -- including "Khvanchkara," "Manavi," and "Tsinandali" -- will be added to the list.

The Georgians should be in high spirits that the deal was concluded. Not only must the EU Commission scrutinize all the products put forward by the Georgians; all EU member states must give the green light to add names to the list -- a procedure that can take years. The most obvious example of a drawn-out debate was the long legal battle between Greece and several other countries headed by Denmark about the above-mentioned Greek feta. Denmark, one of the biggest producers of the cheese, finally had to rebrand it as "apetina" after the European Court of Justice came down on the side of Athens.

Let's hope that the hangover won't be as bad for the Georgians.

-- Rikard Jozwiak

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