Mountain products, understood as products the raw material of which is produced in mountain areas and, in the case of processed products, the processing of which occurs in mountain areas, includes a wide array of products: dairy products, meat products, fruits, olive oil, pastries, mineral waters, medicinal plants…
Mountain products have specific characteristics attributable to the environment in which they are produced, to the quality of natural resources used, and to traditional techniques and know-how employed in their production and processing. These production conditions create specific qualities in terms of taste, aromas, colour, texture, etc.
A market potential to exploit
Mountains convey an image of purity and of tradition. Mountain products are perceived by consumers as environmentally friendly products which support the local economy and culture and contribute to the maintenance of landscapes that are dear to them. This strong common identity constitutes a market potential which still largely remains to be exploited by mountain agro-food supply chain actors. 86% of consumers questioned in the framework of the EuroMARC project declared themselves favourable to a specific labelling of mountain products.
On September 13th, 2012, rewarding 12 years of Euromontana commitment to the issue, the European Parliament officially approved a new regulation reserving the use of the term “mountain product” to food products produced and processed in mountain areas (regulation (EU) No 1151/2012). This regulation entered into force in December 2012 and it was supplemented by the Delegated Act (EU) No 665/2014 approved in July 2014, which specifies the conditions of use of the optional quality term ‘mountain product’.
Policy: the European Charter for mountain quality food products
Euromontana uses its research and cooperation work to promote a European approach to the protection, promotion and development of mountain quality food products.
To this end, Euromontana builds on the European Charter for Mountain quality food products, that was launched in 2005 at the European Parliament and which defines principles to respect in order to achieve a development of mountain products which contributes to sustainable territorial development.
Building on progress made since 2005, including the adoption of the optional quality scheme for mountain products in 2012 (see below), Euromontana updated the Charter in 2016.
To achieve the objectives of the Charter, Euromontana continues to contribute to the debate on European, national and regional policies which are likely to have an impact on mountain products, especially the quality policy for agro-food products which defines official quality schemes and associated labels and the rural development policy which creates measures dedicated to the development of quality supply chains.
Quality policy for agri-food products
Euromontana has been allocated a seat in the civil dialogue group on quality and promotion of agri-food products of the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, for a 7-year period starting in September 2014.
This group aims to hold a regular dialogue, assist and advise the Commission on policy in the fields of quality and promotion, as well as monitor policy developments in those matters. The civil dialogue group replaces the former advisory group on quality of agri-food products, where Euromontana used to participate as expert member.
Track record of Euromontana’s actions during the quality policy reform
Since the European Mountain Convention in Trento, in 2000, Euromontana has carried out an intense effort to achieve the recognition and promotion of the specific characteristics of mountain food products. Using evidence from scientific research (see Projects below) and through a strong advocacy and lobby work towards the European institutions, Euromontana has finally achieved the approval of the optional quality term “Mountain Product”. It has been a long way to attain this reward.
The debate since 2008 has been dominated by the reform of the policy for quality of agri-food products which resulted on the 10th of December in the adoption by the European Commission of legislative proposals known as the “quality package “.
This legislative package is the result of a long consultation which started with the publication of a green paper on the quality of agri-food products, to which Euromontana replied on the 12th of December 2008.
Following repeated demands from Euromontana and other actors in the field for a European scheme for the protection of mountain products, and in the absence of opposition to this proposal in all consultative bodies, DG AGRI of the European Commission announced that it would study the feasibility of an optional term reserved for mountain products and then drafted proposals for such a term. The proposal was unfortunately withdrawn at the last minute based on the argument that the impact assessment still had to be completed.
- see the press release published following the decision of the Commission to postpone the proposal for a mountain term
We have been heard as both the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament have included in their respective reports (Opinion of the Committee of the Regions by René Souchon and Report by Iratxe García Pérez for the European Parliament) the request for an optional quality term for mountain products. Work continued through 2011, leading to the adoption on June 20th, 2012 of a political compromise between the Council, the Parliament, and the Commission on a new regulation protecting the use of an optional quality term “mountain product”.
The new regulation was officially voted on by the European Parliament on September 13th, 2012 and was adopted by the Council in November. The regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on November 21st 2012, entitled Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. This major step forward rewards 12 years of Euromontana work on this issue.
- read the regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 (available in all the EU languages)
The regulation No 1151/2012 provides the overall legal framework for all quality schemes, whose technical details and partial derogations are further developed by delegated acts or regulations.
Regarding the optional quality term “Mountain Product”, the derogations proposed at an early stage implied a serious risk of jeopardising the link between the product and the territory. Consequently Euromontana carried out an intense lobby strategy together with our members in order to guarantee the quality, origin and credibility of the term “Mountain Product”. Lobby actions included a regular dialogue with the European Commission, including letters and meetings with the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş and his cabinet, the director-general of the DG Agri, as well as the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier.
- read the delegated act (EU) No 665/2014 (available in all EU languages).
The network is already discussing what actions should be conducted to ensure we rip full benefit of this new opportunity.
Rural development policy
Euromontana also promotes a targeted approach to the needs of mountain agro-food supply chains in its position on the CAP and the rural development policy.
- See the page agriculture and rural development
In particular, we advocate for mountain food supply chains to gain access to rural development quality measures.
Euromontana’s actions on mountain quality products are built on scientific bases resulting from two European research projects:
- Mountain quality products – Strategic information for the development of quality food products in European mountains – 2002-2004 – 5th Framework programme on research and development
- EuroMARC – Mountain agro-food products: their consumers, distribution and local initiatives, 2007-2010 – 6th Framework programme on research and development.
In the framework of the new regulatory developments, Euromontana collaborated with ISARA and UHI in a major study conducted by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (IPTS) on mountain foods, which was published in 2013.
- Read the report: Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming
The most recent event organised was the final conference of EuroMARC, Maribor, 3-4 December 2009.
One of the aims of the IXth European Mountain Convention was to explore how the CAP and other European policies could support the development of mountain value chains, with a special focus on the new optional quality term “Mountain Product”.
The IXth European Mountain Convention “Quality from the mountains: prosperity for people and territories” was held in Bilbao (Spain), on 22–24 October 2014.
- You can find here all the presentations of the IXth European Mountain Convention and the official conclusions here