The EESC welcomes the Commission's initiative to align the current legal framework for spirit drinks with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and to make the legislation consistent with new EU legal instruments, namely as regards the provision of food information to consumers and quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. In particular, the EESC supports the introduction of a stronger link to the agricultural sector. This link is essential for the quality and reputation of the spirit drinks produced in the EU.
The EESC acknowledges the complexity of the realignment exercise and welcomes the clarification and improvements in areas such as rules related to the labelling of compound terms, allusions and mixture of spirit drinks, as well as the optional labelling for the origin of raw materials. On geographical indications (GI), the EESC welcomes the clarification of the GI rules and procedures and the value placed on tradition and local/territorial production.
The EESC highlights the importance of maintaining the current level of protection for the spirit drinks sector, so as to guarantee that added value and employment stay in Europe. What is important is the place in which the product is distilled and manufactured, and the change of terminology that has been introduced should not imply any major modifications for the sector. On presentation and labelling, the Committee suggests some improvements in the current proposal, namely as regards the importance of avoiding any kind of misrepresentation or misunderstanding in relation to "imitation flavours", which could be deceptive for consumers.
Although this is not within the specific scope of the Commission proposal, the EESC reiterates its previous recommendations on the need for a consistent and comprehensive policy approach based on avoiding harmful alcohol consumption, as well as on the promotion of responsible drinking that avoids health risks and under-age drinking – not only for the spirits sector, but also more generally. Information, education and awareness-raising are crucial in this respect, and the EESC welcomes the numerous public and private sector initiatives in this context.