Existing GAPs related to the legal framework on quality schemes and consumer health in Albania

(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”)

Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on
quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs – PDO, PGI and TSG.

This Regulation published on Official Journal of the European Union L 343,14 December 2012, also known as the “Quality Package” and aims to help producers of agricultural products and foodstuffs to communicate the product characteristics and farming attributes of those products and foodstuffs to buyers and consumers, ensuring:

A) fair competition for farmers and producers of agricultural products and foodstuffs having value-adding characteristics and attributes;
B) the a vai lab i I ity to consumers of rei ia b le information pertaining to such products;
C) Respect for intellectual property rights. In particular, the Regulation sets out quality schemes, which provide the basis for the identification and protection of names and terms that indicate or describe agricultural products with value-adding characteristics.

The Regulation n. 1151/2012 is the last stage of a long and somewhat exhausting process that began immediately after the entry into force of Regulations 509 and 510 of 2006 on Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG) and Protected Designations of Orìgin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI), which in turn had innovated and replaced the first two Regulations on quality production No 2081 and 2082 of 1992. Already in 2006, the Commission had promoted a series of hearings with stakeholders (farmers, producers, consumers, processors and retailers) followed by a conference in Brussels on the development of quality policies. In 2008, the famous “Green Paper” (Communication 234 of 2009) appeared, which, on the basis of possible lines of revision of PDO, PGI and TSG, had launched an EU-wide stakeholder consultation that ended with the conference on agricultural product quality policy held in Prague in March 2009. The Commission’s proposals in this “Green Paper” highlighted the desire to make radical changes to the European System for managing quality products, striving to simplify it and make it more understandable to consumers. The paper identified three areas for action to strengthen European quality policy: (1) Marketing standards; (2) EU quality schemes, including organic production; 3) Private quality schemes.

The new regulation regulates part of the elements that characterise a quality food offer: it regulates PDO, PGI and TSG in a single text, it simplifies and strengthens the protection System and makes it possible to use, together with the signs of quality (PDO and PGI), graphic representations, texts and symbols of the area to which they belong and collective geographical marks. The three types of Geographical Indication have the same level of protection on European and international markets. Even though Albania is not obliged to implement this regulation before the accession, it is important to align the legai framework before accession in European Union.

Law no. 9947 dated 7.07.2008 “On industrial property”

In the industrial property field, the legislation related to GIs and DOs is fully approximated with EU legislation, namely 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, and Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007.

These directives have been transposed partially in this Law, because they do not regulate only the protection of GI/DO, but also issues related to Traditional Specialties Guaranteed and contain rules that are applicable only for EU Member States. The chapter on geographical indications and designations of origin of the Law No 9947 of 7.07.2008 “On industrial property” is in harmony with the Law No 8/2019 of 26.02.2019 “On quality schemes of agricultural and food products”.

From the institutional set up point of view, the responsive entity – Generali Directorate of Industrial Property (GDIP) has changed from a budgetary public institution into a public non-budgetary institution and operates as an autonomous agency under the supervision of the Minister of Finance and Economy. The new structure of the GDIP was approved by the Supervisory Council, increasing the number of staff from 24 to 39 employees. Consequently, the Directorate of Coordination, Promotion, Training and Analysis was set up within the GDIP. One of the most important duties of this new structure is to work to raise public awareness on the role of industrial property in the Albania. In this framework seminars and trainings are organised with different producers.

The purpose of the law is the regulation of the System of granting and protection of industrial property rights, as well as the regulation of the System of protection of trade secret against misappropriation, use and public disclosure. Industrial property has as its object: a) industrial designs; b) naming of records; c) trademarks; ?) models of use; d) patents for inventions; dh) geographical indications.

Inventions are protected through patents and models of use, which are issued by the Generali Directorate of Industrial Property (hereinafter DPPI). Industrial designs, trademarks and service marks and geographical indications are protected through registration with the DPPI. A design protected by the rights of the registered design, in accordance with this law, also benefits from the protection of copyright from the date of creation of the design or its fixation in any form, according to the criteria set out in the Iegislation in force for protection of copyright. The scope of application of industrial property extends to industry, trade, agriculture, as well as to the development of all natural or processed products.

Artide 176 of the Law dedicated to Gl and DOP where can be found the following definitions:

  • Geographical indications and designations of origin, used in trade to indicate the geographical origin of products, are protected by this law and bylaws issued in its implementation.
  • “Designation of origin” is the name that identifies a product: originate from a specific country, region or, in special cases, the same;
  • whose qualities or characteristics come, exclusively or essentially, as a result of a particular geographical environment, which includes natural and human factors, inherited from the sub- environment;
  • the steps for the production of which are carried out in the defined geographical area “Geographical indication” is the name that identifies a product: a) that originates in a specific country, region or country; b) qualities, reputation or other characteristics of which is essentially attributed to its geographical origin; c) at least one of the productive steps of which is realized in the defined geographical area

Law no.8/2019 date 26.2.2019 on “Quality Schemes of Agricultural and Food Products”

This law approximates EU Regulation 1151/2012 on the indicator “Traditional Guaranteed Specialty”; supplements the law no. 9947 dated 7.07.2008 “On industrial property”, as amended; repeals the respective articles of Law No. 9863, dated 28.01.2008 “On Food”.

The purpose of this law is to assist producers of agricultural and food products in marketing and communicating with consumers the quality of their products to ensure fair competition for farmers and producers of agricultural and food products with characteristics and indicators of value added quality; provide necessary information to the consumer for the quality of these products and ensure market integrity; to create quality schemes for TSG-s (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed), PDO-s (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI-s (Protected Geographical Indicator) indicators; to Determine the tasks and competencies of the bodies for evaluation of the applications for the registration of the TSG-s; verification of compliance with product specifications for PDO-s and PGI-s registration requirements for agricultural and agroo food; inspection and certification of agricultural and agro food products.

According to the Law No. 8/2019 on the quality scheme of agricultural and foodstuff establishes the rules for the functioning of the quality System of agricultural and food products, by providing:

  • fair competition for farmers and producers of agricultural and food products with characteristics and indicators of value-added quality;
  • the information required to the consumer on the quality of these product.

The law also sets out the duties and competences of the bodies responsive for:

  • evaluation of applications for registration of the denomination “Traditional Guaranteed Specialty”;
  • verification of compliance with product specifications for registration requirements designations of origin and geographical indications for agricultural and food products, such as is defined in the law on industrial property;
  • verification of compatibility of registered agricultural and food products such as TSG, PDO, PGI with product specifications, before placing them on the market;
  • carrying out official controls to verify the compatibility of agricultural products and reg¬istered foodstuffs, such as TSG, PDO, PGI, with the requirements set out in this law.

According to the Law No. 8/2019 on the quality scheme of agricultural and foodstuff, the Minis- try of Agriculture is the competent authority for defining and evaluating quality schemes of agri¬cultural and food products. In order to do so, the Ministry establishes the Quality Schemes Committee (QSC). The Quality Schemes Committee is in charge for the applications evaluation for labelling TSG and in substance evaluation of product specifications for PDO and PGIs. In substance evaluation of the product specifications means the examination of the entire application for the purposes of not only formal but mostly substantial examination of the Gl application. The Commission carries out the assessment for:

  • applications for TSG registration;
  • applications for changing the product specifications with the TSG name;
  • objections to registration applications for the TSG naming and objections to product speci¬fications PDO and PGI;
  • compliance with product specifications for PDO and PGI registration requirements for agricultural and food products;5. mutual objections to the EU

The Quality Schemes Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture carries out:

a) obtaining and reviewing the formalities of ap-plications for registration of the TSG and obtaining requests from the General Directorate of Intellectual Property for evaluation compliance with product specifications for PDO and PGI registration;
b) filing an application to the European Commission, at the request of the group, for EU registration products registered as TSG in Albania;
c) obtaining and reviewing formalities of objection from another country in relation to Albanian products applying for EU registration under the TSG name;
d) obtaining and reviewing formalities of objection by the Republic of Albania for applications for the TSG naming registration filed from another country.

On the other hand, Artide 6 of the Law on quality scheme of agricultural and foodstuff sets out the Criteria for registration right and it constitutes that a name is eligible for registration as a traditional guaranteed specialty where it describes a specific product or a food that results by the meth-od of production, processing or composition that correspond to traditional practice for that product or food; or is produced from raw materials or ingredients that are traditionally used. In addition to that, it regulates that in order for a name to be registered as a TSG, it should, first, be traditionally used by referring to a specific product, or, secondly, identify the traditional character or specific character of product.

Who can apply for registration:

  • Group of manufacturers working with the same product; or
  • A person only if he proves to be the sole producer of the agricultural or food product;

Competent Authority for Evaluation of Applications:

a) The Ministry is the Competent Authority for:

  • The application evaluation ;
  • Approval or rejection of the application;
  • Registration;
  • Submitting applications / objections to the EU.

b) Committee for “Quality Schemes”, a consulting and advisory body to the Minister, for opinions and evaluations.

The Committee is composed by 5 members: one representative of the Ministry; four persons with extensive knowledge of TS, PDO and PGI related issues- The representative of the Ministry is the Chairman of the Commission.

Decision of Council of Ministers no. 231, date 19.04.2021 “On composition, functioning, organization and tasks of the committee for approval and audit of certification bodies”. This DCM aims to determine the composition, rules and procedures for the appointment and dismissal of the chairman and members of the commission, the manner of functioning, organization and tasks of the Commission for approval and audit of certification bodies (KMATC).
The Commission consists of 5 members: the Deputy Minister of the Ministry, responsive for quality schemes; the Director of the Directorate, responsible for quality schemes in the Ministry; a presentative from the Agency for official control with experience over 5 years, part of the control structure of other schemes, according to the division of functions, request for risk analysis; presentative from Ministry of Finance, part of the General Directorate of Accreditation, with experience in the field of agricultural and food preparation; presentative from Agricultural University, Faculty of Biotechnology and Food.
Members of the Commission, proposed by the necessary institutions and appointed and dismissed by order of the Minister. The appointment of the members of the Commission was made for a period of 3 years, with the right of reappointment. Duties for the chairman and members of the commission are given separately in the DCM.

Decision of Council of Ministers no. 401, date 06.07.2021 “Defining detailed criteria for approval and competencies of the certification bodies”
The purpose of this decision is to define the detailed criteria for approval and competencies of the Certification Bodies, which will carry out the process of verifying the compliance of agricultural and food products registered as EOM, TGJM and STG with the relevant specifications.
The DCM clearly defines the general criteria that must be met, the criteria for human resources, the main data that the quality certificate must have, as well as the competencies of the certification bodies.

Decision of Council of Ministers no. 434 dated 11.7.2018 “On Food labelling and consumer information”
This decision aims to lay the groundwork for ensuring a high level of consumer protection through food information, taking into account differences in consumer perceptions and their information needs, as well as ensuring the normal functioning of the market.
This decision sets out the general principles, requirements and key responsibilities governing food information and, in particular, the labelling of food products. It sets out the means to guarantee the right to consumer information and procedures for providing food information, taking into account the need to provide sufficient flexibility to respond to future developments and new information requirements. This decision applies to: a) Food business operators, at all stages of the food chain where their activity is related to providing food information to consumers; b) All food intended for the final consumer, including food provided by mass food suppliers and food intended for supply for the catering service; c) Catering services provided by transport companies. 3. This decision is implemented without prejudice to the labelling requirements provided in special provisions, applicable to specific food products

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