Publications | Levi Van Dijck

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consetetur sadipscing elitr,
sed diam nonumy eirmod
tempor invidunt ut labore et

Whilst you may be enjoying a lunch at some sunny holiday destination, the Court of Justice of the EU has, on the 14th of July, rendered a judgment in the case of the EU Commission against Denmark (C-159/20), that concerns the very salad you may be eating for lunch.

The discussion centered around the typical ingredient for a tasty Greek salad (and many other dishes), namely Feta cheese.

Feta is, since 2002, registered as a protected designation of origin (PDO) and as such cheese can only be named Feta when it comes from the defined area in Greece where it is traditionally produced according to applicable product specifications.

Denmark however had allowed that cheese produced in its country and intended for export to third countries was named Feta, which was not appreciated by the EU Commission, who brought action against the country for allowing ‘Danish Feta’ to be exported to non-EU countries, an action supported by Greece and Cyprus.

Denmark argued that the EU Regulation 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (which amongst others deals with PDOs and the similar protected geographical indications - PGIs) only applies to products sold in the EU and does not apply to products intended for export to non-EU countries, so there was no obligation for them to prevent or stop production of products for which the name Feta was used.

The Court of Justice however did not follow Denmark’s reasoning and decided the Regulation in question also applies in this case where the cheese was intended for export, as the use of PDOs/PGIs to designate a product that is produced in the EU but does not comply with the product specifications, violates the intellectual property rights protecting producers of products resorting under PDOs/PGIs. Allowing such violation would deprive these producers of fair returns for the qualities of their products, which for that reason are protected by PDOs/PGIs.

The same applies for other PDOs/PGIs in the EU, which protect against market imitations with the same name popping up outside of where the product traditionally comes from, even if they are purely intended to be exported outside of the EU.

So bottom line, the Feta cheese in your Greek salad really needs to be Greek or you will have to name it a Danish salad, which does not really have the same sunny ring to it, does it?