HomelabelsItaly, illicit extensions on wine labelling. Attention to exports!

Italy, illicit extensions on wine labelling. Attention to exports!

The Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida, with ministerial decree 8 March 2024 n. 115268, has proposed extending its illicit extensions to the deadlines for wine labeling established by Regulation (EU) 30/2024 until 2021 June 2117. (1) Attention to exports!

1) Wine labelling, EU rules

Regulation (EU) 2021/2117 has amended Regulation (EU) 1308/2013 (Single CMO), introducing the duty to add - in the labeling of wines and flavored wine products - the list of ingredients and the nutritional declaration. On the label or even just in electronic format, via e-label. (2)

The application of EU rules on wine labeling was expected by 8 December 2023, but operators in the sector 'fell off the hook', two years after the publication of the aforementioned Regulation.

Many operators in fact they have not adapted their labels - nor have they provided for electronic labelling, which is very simple to activate with the Brindo QR-code of GS1-Italy (3) - also due to the starvation of the large agricultural confederations in the dutiful reminder to apply the new rules.

2) European Commission, illicit derogation from Reg. (EU) No 2021/2117

Just two weeks earlier of the application of the new rules, the European Commission - under pressure from the suddenly awakened sector lobbies - published a document on wine labelling. (4)

The 'guidelines' of the Commission introduce a derogation from the terms of application of Regulation (EU) 2021/2117 which is however illicit, since this power is entrusted exclusively to the European legislator (through amendment of the Regulation, in agreement with the European Parliament and the Council).

The European Commission has thus hypothesized that the new new mandatory indications will apply only to wines placed on the market starting from 8 December 2023. Effectively granting two extensions:

- 'wines 'produced' before that date may continue to be placed on the market based on labeling requirements applicable before 8 December 2023, while stocks last', and

– 'produced' wine means a wine that has completed not only the fermentation phase, but also further oenological practices. (5)

3) QR-code or link, labeling requirements

Alla domanda whether the QR code or the link that refers to the mandatory information provided electronically - list of ingredients and/or nutritional declaration - must be accompanied by further information on the physical label of the wines, the European Commission has clarified that:

– the ISO 2760 symbol 'i', 'information to consumers' is not enough, since

- 'if there is no clear reference to the content of the information provided electronically on the label, the consumer can hardly interpret and understand the nature of the information (mandatory or not) contained in the link'.

The QR-code and/or link to the manufacturer's website they must therefore:

– be accompanied by a wording, on the physical label, indicating the information to which it refers (i.e. 'ingredients, nutritional declaration')

– direct the reader immediately and directly to the specific information relating to the individual product.

Any possible obstacle – including the attack of cookies or even worse, the collection of personal data – can be sanctioned by the Market and Competition Authorities (AGCM, Antitrust) and Privacy, respectively. (6)

4) Italy, illicit extensions on wine labelling

The 7 December 2024 – that is, four days after the application of the new EU rules, the Minister of Agriculture, better late than never, adopted a first ministerial decree. (7) In 'derogation from the derogation' hypothesized by the European Commission, the minister Francesco Lollobrigida hypothesized that 'flavored wines and wine products with labels bearing the ISO 2760 'i' symbol next to the QR code which refers to the information relating to the list of ingredients and the nutritional declaration' can only be released on national territory until 8 March 2024.

The 8 March 2024 the 'brother-in-law' minister (of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni) signed a second ministerial decree which hypothesizes the extension of authorization for the use of labels of wines and flavored wine products where the QR code is accompanied only by the ISO symbol 'i', until to 30 June 2024, limited to products placed on the market in Italy.

Labels in stock on that date in any case, the decree unnecessarily specifies, 'they can continue to be used only if corrected by affixing a sticker showing the term 'ingredients' next to the 'i' symbol or any other indication deemed useful'. (1) The affixing of a sticker that integrates the mandatory information on the label, regardless of the times indicated in the decree, is always and in any case permitted. (8)

5) Attention to exports

The 'minister who stopped trains' he assumed his mandate on 22 October 2022 but only after 14 months did he discover the existence of a European Regulation that affects the marketing of wines of which Italy is still the leading producer in the world.

On the eve of Vinitaly, from 14 to 17 April 2024 in Verona, it is useful to remember that:

– the other 26 member states of the European Union can sanction deficiencies in wine labeling if they do not report

– the list of ingredients and the nutritional declaration, in the language of the country of destination, even through links or QR codes, with specific explanatory wording.

Dario Dongo and Alessandra Mei

Footnotes

(1) Ministerial Decree 8 March 2024 n. 115268. Wine sector – National provisions implementing article 119 of Regulation (EU) no. 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council – Labeling of wine and aromatised wine products https://www.politicheagricole.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/21144

(2) Regulation (EU) No. 1308/2013, so-called single CMO. Consolidated text as of 8.12.23 https://tinyurl.com/3awrjdhf

(3) Dario Dongo. Brindo, the GS1-Italy Servizi QR code for wine labelling. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(4) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. New EU rules on wine labelling, guidelines from the European Commission. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(5) Commission Notice – Questions and answers on the implementation of new EU wine labeling provisions [C/2023/1190] https://tinyurl.com/2hu5y7v6

(6) Digital label for alcoholic beverages, replies lawyer Dario Dongo. DO (Food and Agriculture Requirements). 3.2.24

(7) Ministerial Decree 7 December 2023 n. 0675460. Wine sector – Labeling of wine products https://www.politicheagricole.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/20692

(8) As the European Commission recalls, in section 2.2 of its 'guidelines' referred to in note 5, pursuant to Food Information Regulation (EU) No 1169/11 it is sufficient that the labels are not "easily removable". An additional sticker is enough, always and in any case

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

Alessandra Mei
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Graduated in Law from the University of Bologna, she attended the Master in Food Law at the same University. You participate in the WIISE srl benefit team by dedicating yourself to European and international research and innovation projects.

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