Popular wine brand 'Tokaj' remains in Slovakia

10 January 2013

Katarína Bujňáková

(Decision of the General Court of the European Court of Justice in the matter T-194/10 Hungarian Republic vs. European Commission handed down on 8 November 2012)

On 1 August 2009 the new electronic register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications for wine (hereinafter referred to as the E-Bacchus register) was introduced by the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as the EC) in line with Regulation No. 1234/2007.

The E-Bacchus originally replaced the previous list of quality wines produced in specified regions (hereinafter referred to as the list of quality wines PSR). In the latest version of the list of quality wines PSR the original Slovak designation "Vinohradnícka oblasť Tokaj" (in English: "Vineyard Area Tokaj") had been changed to the new modified designation "Tokajská/Tokajské/Tokajský vinohradnícka oblasť" (in English: "Tokaj's Vineyard Area") on the basis of a petition submitted by the competent Slovak Authority. In line with the list of quality wines PSR the new modified designation "Tokajská/Tokajské/Tokajský vinohradnícka oblasť" was also included in the E-Bacchus register.

On 30 November 2009 Slovakia asked the EC to replace the new designation with the original one due to the non-compliance of the designation with the legal regulation in Slovakia effective as of the introduction of the E-Bacchus register (1 August 2009). The EC amended the registration according to the Slovak application.

On 28 April 2010 the Hungarian Republic brought an action in the General Court of the European Court of Justice against the EC where it asks inter alia the EC for the cancellation of the Slovak designation "Vinohradnícka oblasť Tokaj" as it contradicted with the applicable Slovak legal regulation stipulating the designation "Tokajská/Tokajské/Tokajský vinohradnícka oblasť" adopted on 30 June 2009 and effective as of 1 September 2009. 

"Tokaj" represents the attractive vineyard area located within the territory of both the Slovak Republic and the Hungarian Republic with a total area of ca. 6 000 ha, although the boundaries of both have been the subject of dispute.

Upon reviewing any and all relevant circumstances the General Court of the European Court of Justice rejected the action brought by the Hungarian Republic as inadmissible, stating in its reasoning that at the time of the introduction of the E-Bacchus register the Slovak designation "Vinohradnícka oblasť Tokaj" had already enjoyed the protection of the wines' designations on the part of the European Community. The introduction of the new register itself shall not change the nature of the protection of the wines' designations, so their protection does not rest on the registration in the new database and thus the registration in the new database does not produce legal effects. The General Court of the European Court of Justice added that the Slovak applicable legal regulation came into effect on 1 September 2009, i.e. upon the introduction of the E-Bacchus register, and therefore the designation should not be cancelled.

The aforementioned decision is, however, not effective as the Hungarian Republic has the right to appeal within 2 months of the decision.

The English version of the action brought is available at: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=80998&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=433554
The only Hungarian and French version of the court decision is available at: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=129441&pageIndex=0&doclang=FR&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=431279

 

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> Deficiencies in food control in Sweden

> CJEU to claify dispute between Barcardi and Mevi on customs duty suspension arrangements

> The Czech Republic loses its famous butter spread

> Sarika Connoisseur Cafe Pte Ltd v Ferrero SpA

> Nutritional claims and new beer tax in France

> Indirect advertising for alcoholic beverages

 


 

 

[1] Act No. 313/2009 Coll. On Winegrowing and Vineculture as amended;
Please note that as of 1 June 2010 the original Slovak designation "Vinohradnícka oblasť Tokaj" was reintroduced in Slovak legislation by the amendment of Act No. 313/2009.