Brussels paves the way to protect Catalan espadrilles

The European Commission proposes a regulation to protect intellectual property and authenticity of traditional artisan products

2 min
The subtle charm of espadrilles

BrusselsTraditional and handmade products such as Catalan espadrilles, Murano glass, Limoges porcelain and Llorca ceramics should be protected at European level for their intellectual value and authenticity. This is the view of the European Commission, which this Wednesday proposed a regulatory framework that recognises their special and specific value throughout the European Union, through a system similar to that of designations of origin that protect agri-food products such as wine, oil and cheese.

As the Commission recognises, most of these products already have a European and sometimes even worldwide reputation, but they do not have an official system linking their origin and reputation to their quality. In fact, this is a historial demand by associations of artisans and regional leaders, such as Castilla-La Mancha president Emiliano García-Page, who has asked on several visits to the EU capital for a system to protect the intellectual property of certain artisan and industrial products, in his case thinking of goods such as knives from Albacete and wickerwork from Cuenca: "It is very important that there is a process to defend identity, ¡that which is original. Someone may think that establishing protection for industrial and artisan productions may mean a rupture of the market, but it is the opposite: either we distinguish what is real from what is fake, or we cheat," he said in one of his last visits in statements collected by Efe.

Brussels has finally taken up the gauntlet. The proposal, which still has to be definitively approved by the European Parliament and European partners, was presented on Wednesday, hoping it may come into force by 2024. The regulation seeks on the one hand to protect the quality of products and link them to their region of origin or production, and on the other to help consumers to make more informed choices, to have more guarantees about the quality of certain products and to be able to act more easily against copies and counterfeits. There are already 16 European countries that protect these products at a national level, including Spain, but the regulatory framework proposed by the European Commission will make it possible to protect them throughout the Community.

To benefit from this special geographical protection, products will have to be original from a specific place, region or country; have a quality, reputation or other characteristic necessarily attributable to their geographical origin; and at least one of the production steps must be in the defined geographical area. To obtain this protection, producers will have to submit their applications to the authorities of their state, which will then submit the applications they consider appropriate to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).