"We are convinced that labels are an excellent promotion tool for the regions and their local producers, particularly in rural or isolated zones. Labels represent not only the quality of a product but also the personality of a region," stated Klaus Klipp, Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions (AER). "This is the reason why regions should exploit their full potential to develop their economy. They must, however, respond to problems such as the multiplication of labels and their possible lack of credibility". To respond to the needs of the European regions, the AER organised today its first Conference on regional quality labels.
70 participants from more than 30 regions took part in this event. Together, they assessed the impact, both positive and negative, that European standards - such as the Protected Geographical Indications or the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed - have on the quality of regional production. They exchanged views and experiences on the opportunities labels offer for local economies, how labels can contribute to better health and environmental sustainability and to what extent they can be employed as a communication tool for the region. The participating regions concluded that a genuine quality policy could respond to citizen requests regarding health, ecology and respect for the environment. "Quality labels can help regions move away from the automatisms of intensive agriculture, which lead to a strong price competition and stifle diversity," Klaus Klipp added.
"Lets' take the opportunity of the ongoing consultation on the revision of the European Union's labelling policy to analyse the potential role of labels in regional policies and the opportunities they provide" said Mr Stavros Arnaoutakis, Member of the European Parliament and host of this event. "No doubt the new EU regulations on traditional quality produce will help us to develop and promote regional products within our countries, in Europe, and even worldwide. For example, in my region of Kriti, we have olive oil and wine protected with a designation of origin which certify the authenticity and quality of these products."
After this first step, the AER will support its regions' initiatives on creating strong and clear regional quality labels. On its side, the AER suggests the EU to create a "GMO free" European label that would respond to the demands voiced by a majority of citizen.
The AER thanks MEP Arnaoutakis, the territorial authorities of Kriti and the Association of European Regions of Products of Origin (AREPO) for their strong support in organising this event.
The AER, Assembly of European Regions (www.a-e-r.org), is the political organisation of Regions in Europe and their spokesperson at European and international level. Its vocation is to defend the Regions' interests in the political process and develop interregional cooperation. AER brings together 255 Regions from 30 European Countries, members and non-members of the EU, and 14 interregional organisations.
AER Contacts: Ourania Georgoutsakou, Policy Coordinator for Committee 'Health and Social', email@example.com, - or Claudia Meschede, Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org, - Tel.: +33 3 88 22 74 33/35Estelle Delangle, Assistant for Committee Regional policies', email@example.com or Jojanneke Schut, Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org - Tel: +33-3-88 22 74 38/37