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The Member States’ obligation to stop products that do not comply with a Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and are exported to countries outside the EU


Legal watch

Publication date

4 January 2023

In response to a request from the European Commission, the CJEU questioned whether Regulation No. 1151/2012 should apply to agricultural products exported to countries outside the EU where the name was not protected.

In this case, companies established in Denmark exported cheeses under the name “Feta” even though they did not comply with the specifications of the “Feta” PDO.

The Greek authorities reported to the European Commission the behavior of the Danish authorities, considering that they did not take any measures to stop the marketing of cheeses to third countries of the EU.

The Danish authorities considered that their practice was not contrary to EU law, as Regulation No. 1151/2012 would only apply to agricultural products marketed within the EU, and not in third countries.

It is true that, unlike the Wine Regulation (R. n°1308/2013) or the Spirits Regulation (R. n°2019/787), there is no provision in the Agricultural products Regulation (R. n°1151/2012) for the rules to also apply to exports.

However, the Court has remained in line with its case law, which aims to give maximum protection to geographical indications, and interprets the Regulation as broadly as possible, considering the literal terms of the text, but also its context and objectives.

Thus, the CJEU ruled that the Danish authorities, by failing to prevent and stop the illegal use of the “Feta” PDO to designate cheese that does not meet the specifications and exported to third countries, violate Regulation No. 1151/2012.


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