Protected Designation of Origin
The European Commission has developed a philosophy for protecting geographical origin and local production methods by classifying certain products as Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.)
In the era of globalisation, securing names of origin and safeguarding the right to use these names, against producers who put product - imitations in the market, is a difficult procedure, directly proportional to the economic interests that are at stake. In the mind of certain consumers worldwide, the name of a product has been associated with a concrete place of origin, so that only mentioning the name of product it is associated with the country of origin. It is righteous and in accordance with international agreements to raise the subject of securing the name of origin. The case which is at issue is the greek character of Feta cheese.
The regulation 1107/96 initially registered Feta cheese as Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) under the conditions enforced by the regulation 2081/92 EU of the requirements that should be met so that any product bears the name of origin.. An abrogative decision of this regulation from the European Court of Justice was published following the reactions of producers from other countries that manufactured imitation Feta cheese. After the valid appeal of Greek parties, the name Feta has been permanently registered as Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) according to the decision 314/14-6-2002 of the Commission.
TRIBUNAL DE JUSTICIA DE LAS COMUNIDADES EUROPEAS
SOUDNÍ DVŮR EVROPSKÝCH SPOLEČENSTVÍ
DE EUROPÆISKE FÆLLESSKABERS DOMSTOL
GERICHTSHOF DER EUROPÄISCHEN GEMEINSCHAFTEN
EUROOPA ÜHENDUSTE KOHUS
ΔΙΚΑΣΤΗΡΙΟ ΤΩΝ ΕΥΡΩΠΑΪΚΩΝ ΚΟΙΝΟΤΗΤΩΝ
COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES
COUR DE JUSTICE DES COMMUNAUTÉS EUROPÉENNES
CÚIRT BHREITHIÚNAIS NA gCÓMHPHOBAL EORPACH
CORTE DI GIUSTIZIA DELLE COMUNITÀ EUROPEE
EIROPAS KOPIENU TIESA
EUROPOS BENDRIJŲ TEISINGUMO TEISMAS
EURÓPAI KÖZÖSSÉGEK BÍRÓSÁGA
IL-QORTI TAL-ĠUSTIZZJA TAL-KOMUNITAJIET EWROPEJ
HOF VAN JUSTITIE VAN DE EUROPESE GEMEENSCHAPPEN
TRYBUNAŁ SPRAWIEDLIWOŚCI WSPÓLNOT EUROPEJSKICH
TRIBUNAL DE JUSTIÇA DAS COMUNIDADES EUROPEIAS
SÚDNY DVOR EURÓPSKYCH SPOLOČENSTIEV
SODIŠČE EVROPSKIH SKUPNOSTI
EUROOPAN YHTEISÖJEN TUOMIOISTUIN
EUROPEISKA GEMENSKAPERNAS DOMSTOL
Press and Information
PRESS RELEASE No 92/05
25 October 2005
Judgment of the Court of Justice in Joined Cases C-465/02 and C-466/02
Federal Republic of Germany and Kingdom of Denmark v Commission of the European
THE COURT OF JUSTICE UPHOLDS THE NAME ‘FETA’ AS A PROTECTED
DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN FOR GREECE
The name has not become generic.
In 2002, the Commission registered the name ‘feta’ as a protected designation of origin
(PDO) for a white cheese soaked in brine, originating in Greece1. Thus, the name enjoys
Community-wide protection2 as it is reserved exclusively for cheese originating in Greece.
In order to be registered as a PDO, a traditional name such as ‘feta’, which is not the name of
a region, place or country3, must refer to an agricultural product or a foodstuff from a defined
geographical environment with specific natural and human factors which is capable of
conferring on that product or foodstuff its specific characteristics. Moreover, the name cannot
have become generic.
In the Commission’s view, those conditions are fulfilled. The name ‘feta’ has not become the
common name for an agricultural product or a foodstuff and, therefore, has not become
generic. The geographical area defined by the Greek legislation covers only the territory of
mainland Greece and the department of Lesbos. Extensive grazing and transhumance, central
to the method of keeping the ewes and goats used to provide the raw material for making Feta
cheese, are the result of an ancestral tradition allowing adaptation to climate changes and their
impact on the available vegetation. This has led to the development of small native breeds of
1 It had been registered first, in 1996, at the request of Greece. However, in 1999 that registration was annulled
by the Court of Justice following actions brought by Denmark, Germany and France, on the grounds that the
Commission had not taken any account of the fact that that name had been used for a considerable time in certain
Member States other than Greece.
2 This option was introduced by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 of 14 July 1992 on the protection of
geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs (OJ 1992 L 208,
3 The term ‘feta’ is derived from the Italian word ‘fetta’, meaning ‘slice’, which entered the Greek language in
the seventeenth century.
sheep and goats which are extremely tough and resilient, fitted for survival in an environment
that offers little food in quantitative terms but, in terms of quality, is endowed with an
extremely diversified flora, thus giving the finished product its own specific aroma and
flavour. The interplay between the natural factors and the specific human factors, in particular
the traditional production method, which requires straining without pressure, has thus given
Feta cheese its remarkable international reputation.
The Court of Justice finds that Germany and Denmark, which, supported by France and the
United Kingdom, have applied for annulment of the registration of ‘feta’ as a PDO for
Greece, have not shown that this assessment by the Commission is incorrect.
As regards, in particular, the argument that ‘feta’ has become a generic name, the Court finds
that whilst white cheeses soaked in brine have been produced for a long time, not only in
Greece but in various countries in the Balkans and the southeast of the Mediterranean basin,
those cheeses are known in those countries under names other than ‘feta’.
Although the production in the other countries has been relatively large and of substantial
duration (since 1931 in France, since the 1930s in Denmark and since 1972 in Germany) the
production of feta has remained concentrated in Greece, with more than 85% of Community
consumption of feta, per capita and per year, taking place in Greece. Moreover, the majority
of consumers in Greece consider that the name ‘feta’ carries a geographical and not a generic
connotation. In other Member States, feta is commonly marketed with labels referring to
Greek cultural traditions and civilisation. Thus, consumers in those Member States perceive
feta as a cheese associated with Greece, even if in reality it has been produced in another
Member State. As regards Denmark, the Court notes that the relevant Danish legislation does
not refer to ‘feta’ but to ‘Danish feta’, which would tend to suggest that in Denmark the name
‘feta’, by itself, has retained a Greek connotation.
Thus, the Commission could lawfully decide that the term ‘feta’ had not become generic.
Unofficial document for media use, not binding on the Court of Justice.
Languages available: FR, DA, DE, EN, ES, GR, IT, PL, CS, SK
The full text of the judgment may be found on the Court’s internet site
It can usually be consulted after midday (CET) on the day judgment is delivered.
For further information, please contact Christopher Fretwell
Tel: (00352) 4303 3355 Fax: (00352) 4303 2731
Pictures of the delivery of the judgment are available on EbS “Europe by Satellite”,
a service provided by the European Commission, Directorate-General Press and
L-2920 Luxembourg, Tel: (00352) 4301 35177 Fax: (00352) 4301 35249
or B-1049 Brussels, Tel: (0032) 2 2964106 Fax: (0032) 2 2965956
COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES
COM(2002) 314 final
Proposal for a
amending the Annex to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1107/96
with regard to the name 'Feta'
(presented by the Commission)
On 14 July 1992 the Council adopted Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
Under the simplified procedure established by Article 17 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, the Greek authorities notified on 21 January 1994 the name 'Feta' for registration as a protected designation of origin (PDO). The Commission examined the request for registration for conformity with Articles 2 and 4 and concluded that the name 'Feta' met the criteria of the Regulation and should therefore be protected
The Commission submitted the 'Feta' file to the Scientific Committee for Designations of Origin, Geographical Indications and Certificates of Specific Character established by Commission Decision 93/53/EEC of 21 December 1992. According to Article 2 of that decision, the task of the committee, made up of qualified experts with legal or agricultural backgrounds, and particularly with knowledge of intellectual property rights, is to examine, at the request of the Commission, all technical problems relating to the application of the basic regulation. These include questions relating to the generic nature of the name and the factors to be taken into account when defining geographical indications and designations of origin of agricultural products and foodstuffs.
On 15 November 1994, the Scientific Committee expressed the view, by four votes in favour and three against, having regard in particular to the information supplied, that the name 'Feta' met the conditions for registration under Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, more particularly Article 2(3) thereof. In the same opinion, the Scientific Committee unanimously concluded, on the basis of the documentation submitted to it, that the name 'Feta' for Greek cheese was not generic within the meaning of Article 3(1) of the basic regulation. It stated that the ‘non-generic’ nature of the name 'Feta' is an independent point and is without prejudice to examination of the situation of products legally on the market within the meaning of Article 13(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92. According to Article 13 there is a transitional period of 5 years till the enforcement of the denomination 'Feta' as a protected denomination of origin and the prohibition of other producers to use this designation.
On 20 January 1996, the Commission asked the Regulatory Committee for protected denominations of origin (PDO) and protected geographic indications (PGI) (III-b procedure with three months expiry period) to deliver an opinion on the draft regulation including among others 'Feta' as ‘PDO’. The resulting 45 favourable votes amounted from support by Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, France, and Portugal. Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Finland and Austria expressed a negative opinion resulting to 42 votes. Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Austria, Finland and Sweden mentioned that the proposal was containing product names such as 'Feta' that are generic according in their view.
Due to the absence of opinion in the Committee, the Commission transmitted the draft measures to Council on 8 March 1996. During the Council of Agricultural Ministers on 20 May 1996, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Austria, Finland and Sweden opposed the proposed measures. The United Kingdom abstained. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands expressed support. The Commission, following the absence of opinion by Council and in accordance with the regulatory committee procedure, adopted the proposed regulation. The resulting Commission Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 entered into force on 21 June 1996.
By applications lodged on 30 August, 9 September and 12 September 1996 respectively, the Kingdom of Denmark (C‑289/96), the Federal Republic of Germany (C‑293/96) and the French Republic (C‑299/96) brought actions under Article 173 of the EC Treaty for annulment of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 in so far as it registers the designation 'Feta' as a PDO.
The fore-mentioned governments claimed that the contested regulation is invalid in so far as it provides for registration of the word 'Feta' as a PDO for two principal reasons. First, they argue that the conditions laid down by Article 2 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, which must be fulfilled if a product is to benefit from a PDO, have not been satisfied. In particular they argued that registration of 'Feta' as a PDO is contrary to Article 2(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 in that the geographical area which falls under the protection of the registered name would extend to substantially all of Greece, something which the regulation precludes in the case of traditional non-geographical names, such as that in point here. Second, they submit that the word 'Feta' is a generic term and cannot, therefore, in light of Articles 3 and 17 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, be protected as a PDO. In particular, according to Article 3 of the same regulation, 'names that have become generic may not be registered'.
The Court of Justice of the European Community concluded that the Commission had not taken due account of all factors which Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 requires. By its judgement of 16 March 1999 covering the prescribed joined cases, it decided on the partial annulment of Regulation (EC) No 1107/96.
Subsequently the Commission, on 15 October 1999, invited the Member States to provide exhaustive information on production, consumption and available knowledge on the denomination of 'Feta'. The supplied data are summarised in the recitals of the draft Regulation at hand. This information was transmitted to the scientific Committee. On 24 April 2001, it unanimously concluded that 'Feta' constitutes a non-generic designation of origin. The principal reasons of this opinion are also presented in the recitals of the draft Regulation.
This opinion of the Scientific Committee was presented to the Member States in the regulatory committee on 20 November 2001. The Member States that considered both the data they supplied still valid (from 1999) and the summary provided by the Commission to be correct were Greece, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Portugal and Italy. Germany, Denmark and Finland expressed doubts on the Scientific Committee. France and Sweden did not take position. A new draft measure registering 'Feta' as PDO was also discussed which led to some minor amendments.
The Commission presented the slightly amended measure on 9 April to the regulatory Committee, and asked its opinion on the draft Regulation on 16 May 2002. No opinion was delivered resulting from a favourable vote (47): Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland; a negative vote (23): Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom; and abstention (17): France, Austria, Ireland.
Reasons for the votes against and abstentions:
United Kingdom expressed its sympathy to Greece but supported that large quantities have been produced before and 'Feta' is a generic name. It also supported that there was a difficulty in the comprehension of the elements included in the analysis presented to the committee on 20 November 2001.
Ireland produces a small quantity of 'Feta' and there is no tremendous interest from its side.
France agrees with the analysis presented by the Commission to the committee on 20 November 2001 and it is convinced that 'Feta' is a non-generic name. However it supports that the name 'Feta' should rather be used in conjunction with a geographical name. France has appealed against the registration of the denomination 'Feta' in 1996. In France 'Feta' produced mainly from ewe’s milk and not from cow’s milk (ewe/cow milk equal to ¼).
Denmark firmly considers 'Feta' a generic name. It pointed at inaccuracies in the scientific committee report.
Austria mentioned difficulties in understanding the data of the analysis presented on 20 November 2001. Production of 'Feta' in other Member States should be taken into account, as should the situation in enlargement candidate countries. Considering its bilateral agreement with Greece on 'Feta' it abstained.
Germany maintained its well-known position of 1996. It requested the submission of the presented analysis in German.
The Commission acknowledged that 'Feta' is currently produced in many Member States. This does however not mean that the product is generic. It does not consider the 8 tons production in the United Kingdom to be large. Moreover, 14 out of 18 English dictionaries refer to 'Feta' as a Greek cheese, the others refer to a Greek, Middle East or Balkans origin. Hence, it is difficult to defend the generic nature of the name 'Feta' in the United Kingdom. It also emphasised the independent nature of the scientific committee, and did not enter into discussion on the Danish rejection of the scientific opinion. With respect to the reference to enlargement countries it recalled that Council Regulation (EE) No 2081/92 for the determination of a generic nature only refers to EU territory.
In absence of an opinion of the competent regulatory committee, the Commission, pursuant to Article 5(4) of Council Decision 1999/468/EC laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission, hereby presents the concerned proposal for a Regulation to the Council, and informs the Parliament thereof.
This proposal has no impact on the Community budget.
Proposal for a
amending the Annex to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1107/96
with regard to the name 'Feta'
(Text with EEA relevance)
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
Having regard to Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 of 14 July 1992 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and in particular Article 17 thereof,
(1) Under Article 17(1) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, on 21 January 1994 the Greek authorities sent the Commission an application for the registration of the name 'Feta' for a cheese.
(2) The name 'Feta' was registered as a protected designation of origin under Commission Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 of 12 June 1996 on the registration of geographical indications and designations of origin under the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92.
(3) The Kingdom of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic subsequently brought an action for that registration to be annulled under Article 230 of the Treaty.
(4) In its judgement of 16 March 1999 on joined cases C‑289/96, C‑293/96 and C‑299/96, the Court of Justice partly annulled Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 insofar as it registered the name 'Feta' as a protected designation of origin. The Court considered that the Commission “did not take due account of all the factors which the third indent of Article 3(1) of the basic regulation required it to take into consideration”, emphasising in particular that the Commission had paid insufficient attention to the actual situation in the Member States.
(5) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1070/1999 of 25 May 1999 amending the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 accordingly deleted the name 'Feta' from the said Annex and from the register of protected designations of origin and geographical indications.
(6) Next, on 15 October 1999, the Commission sent each of the Member States a detailed questionnaire intended to provide an exhaustive updated picture of the situation in all the Member States with regard to the production and consumption of 'Feta' and the knowledge of the term professed by Community consumers.
(7) With regard to the production of 'Feta' cheese, the Member States were asked to describe the situation as regards the following factors: the existence of national rules or specific codified practices, the conditions in which production was commenced (in particular the objectives sought, whether the initiative was private or public, the markets and the consumer profile targeted), the quantities produced each year, the final destination of the product, and the exact names of the relevant trademarks used.
(8) With regard to the consumption of 'Feta' cheese, the Member States were asked to describe the situation as regards the following factors: the existence of rules on the marketing of this cheese, the quantities consumed each year, the geographic origin of the cheese consumed, and the specific labels present on the market.
(9) With regard to consumer knowledge of the name 'Feta', the Member States were asked to describe the situation as regards the following factors: definitions of this term, in particular in general works such as dictionaries and encyclopaedias, relevant demoscopic studies or surveys, and any other additional information.
(10) The Commission summarised the information received overall and by Member State, and the Member States subsequently made a number of corrections and amendments.
(11) The information shows that in 12 Member States the production of 'Feta' cheese is not governed by specific rules laying down precise definitions of quality, production methods or, where applicable, geographical areas of production. In Greece, production practices for 'Feta' cheese have been codified in increasingly specific terms since 1935, and the definition of the geographical area of production, traditionally based on consistent and equitable practices, was protected in 1988. Legislation on the quality specifications to be complied with in producing 'Feta' cheese has existed in Denmark since 1963 and was in force in the Netherlands between 1981 and 1998. It should also be noted that the term 'Feta' appears in Community rules on export refunds for milk and milk products and the combined customs nomenclature. These rules relate to customs matters alone and seek neither to interpret consumer opinion nor regulate industrial property rights, nor do they have any bearing on the name under which the cheese concerned is actually marketed, which depends exclusively on considerations related to consumer expectations in the various countries of destination concerned.
(12) Production of 'Feta' cheese, as defined in the combined customs nomenclature, is non-existent in Luxembourg and Portugal. It is, or has been, statistically and economically marginal or sporadic in nine other Member States: Italy, Belgium, Finland, Austria, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain.
(13) However, production of 'Feta' cheese has been found to be substantial in four Member States. Greece has been producing 'Feta' cheese since ancient times, almost exclusively for the Greek market. Official statistics going back to 1931 indicate an output of 25 000 tonnes, and production has now reached around 115 000 tonnes a year. In Greece, cheese bearing the designation 'Feta' is made exclusively from ewe's milk or from a mixture of ewe's and goat's milk.
(14) Denmark has been producing 'Feta' cheese since the 1930s, almost exclusively for export. No data are available before 1967, when 133 tonnes were produced. Output exceeded 1 000 tonnes in 1971 and, when the Community began granting export refunds on exports of 'Feta' cheese in 1975, output increased tremendously, from 9 868 tonnes in 1975 to a peak of 110 932 tonnes in 1989. Since 1995, output has fallen steadily, and amounted to only 27 640 tonnes in 1998, largely due to a fall in demand from third countries and the gradual reduction in export refunds for this type of cheese. Danish production is almost exclusively made from cow's milk.
(15) France began producing 'Feta' cheese in 1931. No data are available before 1980, when 875 tonnes were produced. From 1988 to 1998 output varied between 7 960 tonnes and 19 964 tonnes. Originally manufactured to meet demand from France's Armenian and Greek communities, 'Feta' cheese is now produced for export, with 77.5% of output on average going to the other Member States and the rest of the world. The French production is based on the utilisation, principally, of ewe's milk, and to a lesser extent, cow's milk.
(16) Germany has been producing 'Feta' cheese since 1972 (when production of 78 tonnes was recorded). In 1977 production exceeded the 5 000 tonne mark, just topped 15 000 tonnes in 1980 and reached 24 000 tonnes in 1985, since when it has oscillated between 19 757 and 39 201 tonnes. Originally, the only market was the Balkan immigrant communities within Germany, but exports gradually developed to Middle Eastern countries and the Balkans (mainly owing to export refunds) and to other Member States. German production almost exclusively uses cow's milk.
(17) It should be pointed out that the above figures, which are based on data provided by the Member States on their own output, should be treated as purely indicative since the absence of a specific legislative framework in almost all the Member States, along with the very general definition of the term 'Feta' in the combined customs nomenclature, sometimes leads to rather approximate estimates, and cross-comparisons of responses produce statistically divergent data. Indeed, many Member States find it difficult to distinguish between domestic output and re-exports, which may unduly inflate the figures.
(18) As regards Member States' legislation on the consumption of 'Feta' cheese, as a general rule only the Community and national provisions relating to cheeses in general apply to marketing, presentation and labelling. Only Greece and Denmark have specific detailed legislation on these aspects, while Austria confines the name 'Feta' to Greek products, by virtue of its 1971 bilateral agreement with Greece.
(19) As regards the volume of consumption of 'Feta' in the Community, analysis of the replies given by the Member States shows that a broad estimate calculated by adding the quantities of 'Feta' cheese produced and imported, and subtracting the quantities exported, has proved inadequate in some cases and has even produced anomalous results in others: since it is impossible to take account of existing stocks, quantities re-exported and other factors, the calculation has resulted in theoretically negative consumption in some Member States. Furthermore, 'Feta' cheese as defined in the combined customs nomenclature is not systematically marketed under that name, either because of legal restrictions reserving the use of the term to products that meet certain more specific requirements, or for commercial reasons which tend to prefer distinct names which are recognised by the consumers for whom the cheese is intended. Despite the relative uncertainty caused by this state of affairs, the replies sent by the Member States suggest that when Greece joined the European Community it accounted for some 92% of Community consumption of 'Feta'. While consumption has gradually increased in the other Member States since then, Greece still accounts for about 73% of Community consumption of 'Feta'. A breakdown of consumption in each Member State shows that annual consumption of 'Feta' cheese per person in Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands is no more than 0.010 kg, or 0.08% of Community consumption. In Ireland, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium and Finland, annual consumption of 'Feta' cheese per person varies between 0.040 kg and 0.150 kg, or between 0.32% and 1.22% of Community consumption. It is 0.290 kg (2.36%) in Germany and 0.700 kg (5.0%) in Denmark, as compared to 10.500 kg (85.64%) in Greece.
(20) According to the information sent by the Member States, those cheeses actually bearing the name 'Feta' on Community territory generally make explicit or implicit reference to Greek territory, culture or tradition, even when produced in Member States other than Greece, by adding text or drawings with a marked Greek connotation. The link between the name 'Feta' and Greece is thus deliberately suggested and sought as part of a sales strategy that capitalises on the reputation of the original product, and this creates a real risk of consumer confusion. Labels for 'Feta' cheese not originating in Greece but actually marketed in the Community under that name without making any direct or indirect allusion to Greece are in the minority and the quantities of cheese actually marketed in this way account for a very small proportion of the Community market.
(21) General reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopaedias, and specialised publications sent in by the Member States, show that the term ‘Feta’ does not appear in Italian- and Portuguese-language works, while all Greek-, Spanish- and Dutch-language publications refer exclusively to a Greek cheese made from ewe’s and goat’s milk. Swedish works refer to a cheese of Greek origin made from ewe’s and goat’s milk, which is now also produced in other Member States from cow’s milk, Denmark and Sweden being mentioned in particular. In Danish-language works, reference is made predominantly to a Greek cheese made from ewe's and goat's milk, but also to a cheese made in Denmark and the Balkans, and even without any specific geographical reference. Finnish works refer solely to a Greek cheese or cheese of Greek origin made from ewe's milk or from ewe's milk and goat's milk, with the exception of one work which states no geographical origin. German works refer to a cheese produced in Greece and most of the countries of south-east Europe, and in overseas countries. Fourteen out of the 17 French-language works forwarded refer to a Greek cheese made from ewe's milk and/or goat's milk, while one work refers to a cheese produced in Greece and in the Balkans, one to a cheese of Greek origin widely imitated in Europe, and one to a Greek cheese made from ewe's milk and goat's milk, the production of which has spread to other countries in the same region, and more recently to the rest of Europe and to North America, using cow's milk. Of the English-language works, four refer to a cheese made with ewe's milk, especially in Greece, four others refer to a Greek cheese made from ewe's milk or goat's milk, one refers to a cheese originating in Greece and the Middle East, traditionally made from ewe's milk or goat's milk, but now sometimes also made with cow's milk, two works refer to 'Feta' as a cheese originating in Greece, made from ewe's or goat's milk, now produced in other countries, though still most often as an ingredient in Greek dishes, one work refers to production of 'Feta' in New Zealand, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Denmark and Greece, the country of origin, one work refers to a cheese made in Greece and in the Balkans, another refers to a Greek cheese made from ewe's or goat's milk, but made from cow's milk in the United States, and four works suggest that a cheese made by the ancient Greeks was the direct forerunner of the 'Feta' cheese made in Greece today. In all languages, the way the definition of 'Feta' cheese has evolved over time has not diminished the association and identification with Greece.
(22) All the information forwarded by the Member States was also forwarded to the Scientific Committee, hereinafter referred to as "the Committee", which issued a unanimous opinion on the matter on 24 April 2001.
(23) The Committee began by stating that "[...] a designation of origin or geographical indication can be considered as having become the common name of a product only when there is in the relevant territory no significant part of the public concerned that still considers the indication as a geographical indication [...]; as regards the territory where the transformation must have occurred, the situation in the European Community as a whole must be considered, given the Community-wide scope of the Regulation and the consideration of the European Community as comprising a single market. Therefore, it is not possible to consider exclusively or primarily the situation in individual Member States in isolation. Article 3 of the Regulation provides for consideration of the Member State of origin, the Member States of consumption and the other Member States, including pertinent Community and national legislation. [...] As regards the public concerned, the assessment will depend on the kind of product and the public to which that product is addressed. In the present case, the product being a cheese for consumption primarily by the final consumer (but also by commercial purchasers, such as restaurants, food factories, etc.), the general public is relevant. Therefore, it is with regard to the general public that the designation or indication in question must have lost its original geographical meaning. In determining what the general public perception is, both "direct" measurements are relevant, such as opinion polls and other surveys, and "indirect" measurements, such as the level of production and consumption, the kind and nature of labelling employed, the kind and nature of advertising employed with regard to such products, use in dictionaries, etc.".
(24) Turning to the production of 'Feta' cheese, the Committee noted that production in Greece represents 60% of total Community production of this cheese, and 90% of Community production from ewe's and goat's milk; 'Feta' cheese produced from cow's milk represents 34% of total Community production, and is largely destined for third countries.
(25) As regards consumption, the Committee stressed that 73% of consumption of 'Feta' cheese actually takes place in Greece, where annual consumption is 10.5 kg per person, as against 1.76 kg in the rest of the EU. Although the Committee conceded that 'Feta' consumption is certainly much higher than this in Denmark and Germany, it is still 15 times and 36 times lower than in Greece, respectively. According to the Committee, 'Feta' consumption as a proportion of total per capita consumption of cheese is also significant: in Greece in particular 10.5 kg of 'Feta' is consumed per person per year out of an annual consumption of 14 kg of cheese; in Denmark that ratio is 0.7 kg of 'Feta' to 15 kg of cheese; in France, 0.13 kg of 'Feta' to 20 kg of cheese; in Germany, 0.29 kg of 'Feta' to 19 kg of cheese.
(26) The Committee noted incidentally that "a significant proportion of production outside Greece is exported to non-member countries and has no influence on the situation of the designation 'Feta' in the single market" and that "the absence of production and consumption in a number of Member States does not affect the generic or non-generic nature of the designation".
(27) Turning to the analysis of the relevant national and Community legislation, the Committee observed that 12 Member States do not have specific legislation and the general Community and national rules on cheeses apply to 'Feta'. It noted that Greece has had rules on 'Feta' since 1935 and Denmark since 1963, and that Austria reserves the designation 'Feta' for the Greek product under a bilateral agreement of 1971.
(28) As regards the methods for marketing 'Feta' cheese in the Community, the Committee noted that the consumer is offered "two products, with differing compositions and organoleptic characteristics, under the same designation". The Committee pointed out that labels for 'Feta' cheese not originating in Greece make direct or indirect references to Greece, implying that the term 'Feta' is not used as a "common name, without any geographical significance, synonymous with white cheese (of ewe's or cow's milk) in brine" [...]; according to the Committee, 'Feta' is "generally present[ed] as being of Greek origin [...]".
(29) The Committee "concludes unanimously that the designation 'Feta' is non-generic, in particular for the following reasons:
(30) Production and consumption of 'Feta' are heavily concentrated in Greece. The products produced in other Member States (Germany, Denmark and France), possibly bearing the name 'Feta', are primarily produced from cow's milk, using different technology, and are exported in large quantities to non-member countries. It cannot therefore be concluded that the designation 'Feta' is generic, since the original Greek product is dominant on the Community market. It should also be noted that in those Member States that are not significant producers and consumers, the designation 'Feta' could not be said to have become generic since the word is not used as a common name. In consumers' perception the name 'Feta' always evokes a Greek origin and therefore is not something which has become a common name and hence generic in the Community.
(31) With regard to the relevant national and Community legislation, the Scientific Committee notes that in the majority of Member States there is no specific legislation or rules for the product concerned. Only Greece and Denmark have specific legislation. The Danish legislation permitting the production of a product called 'Danish Feta' differs significantly from the Greek legislation with regard to technical matters (use of ultrafiltered cow's rather than ewe's and goat's milk and the use of additives until 1994). In addition, Denmark has provided no proof that the designation 'Feta' had become a common name that could be used with the name of the producing country ('Danish Feta') at the time when that Member State permitted its use (1963). Similarly, no proof of its generic nature has been provided for the subsequent period.
(32) The fact that the designation 'Feta' is used in the common customs nomenclature or in Community legislation on export refunds has no influence on the perception, knowledge and protection in the single market of the designation concerned, since that legislation is not relevant in this context."
(33) The Commission has taken note of the advisory opinion of the Scientific Committee. It takes the view that the exhaustive overall analysis of the legal, historical, cultural, political, social, economic, scientific and technical information notified by the Member States or resulting from investigations undertaken or sponsored by the Commission leads to the conclusion that in particular none of the criteria required under Article 3 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 to show that a name is generic have been met, and that consequently the name 'Feta' has not become the "the name of an agricultural product or a foodstuff which, although it relates to the place or the region where this product or foodstuff was originally produced or marketed, has become the common name of an agricultural product or a foodstuff".
(34) Since the term 'Feta' has not been established as generic, the Commission has verified, in accordance with Article 17(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, that the application by the Greek authorities for the name 'Feta' to be registered as a protected designation of origin complies with Articles 2 and 4 thereof.
(35) The name 'Feta' is a traditional non-geographical name within the meaning of Article 2(3) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92. The terms 'region' and 'place' mentioned in that provision may be interpreted only from a geomorphological and non-administrative viewpoint, insofar as the natural and human factors inherent in a given product are likely to transcend administrative borders. Under the above Article 2(3), however, the geographical area inherent in a designation may not cover an entire country. In the case of the name 'Feta', it has therefore been noted that the defined geographical area referred to in the second indent of Article 2(2)(a) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 covers only the territory of mainland Greece and the department of Lesbos; all other islands and archipelagos are excluded because the necessary natural and/or human factors do not apply there. Moreover, the administrative definition of the geographical area has been refined and developed, since the product specification submitted by the Greek authorities contains mandatory cumulative requirements: in particular, the area of origin of the raw material has been substantially limited since the milk used to produce 'Feta' cheese must come from ewes and goats of local breeds reared traditionally, whose feed must be based on the flora present in the pastures of eligible regions.
(36) The geographical area covered by the administrative definition and meeting the requirements of the product specification is sufficiently uniform to meet the requirements of Articles 2(2)(a) and 4(2)(f) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92. Extensive grazing and transhumance, central to the method of keeping the ewes and goats used to provide the raw material for making 'Feta' cheese, are the result of an ancestral tradition allowing adaptation to climate changes and their impact on the available vegetation. This has led to the development of small native breeds of sheep and goats which are extremely tough and resistant, fitted for survival in an environment that offers little food in quantitative terms but, in terms of quality, is endowed with an extremely diversified flora, thus giving the finished product its own specific aroma and flavour. The interplay between the above natural factors and the specific human factors, in particular the traditional production method, which requires straining without pressure, has thus given 'Feta' cheese its remarkable international reputation.
(37) Since the product specification submitted by the Greek authorities includes all the information required under Article 4 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92, and the formal analysis of that specification has not revealed any obvious error of assessment, the name 'Feta' should be registered as a protected designation of origin.
(38) Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 should therefore be amended accordingly.
(39) The Committee established under Article 15 of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 has not delivered an opinion within the time limit set by its chairman.
HAS ADOPTED THIS REGULATION:
1. The name "Φέτα" (Feta) shall be included in the register of protected designations of origin and geographical indications provided for in Article 6(3) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 as a protected designation of origin (PDO).
2. The name "Φέτα" shall be added to Part A of the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1107/96 under the heading "Cheeses", "Greece".
This Regulation shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
Done at Brussels,
For the Council
 OJ L 208, 24.7.1992, p. 1.
 OJ L 13, 21.1.1993, p. 16.
 OJ C …, …, p. …
 OJ L 208, 24.7.1992, p. 1. Regulation last amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 2796/2000 (OJ L 324, 21.12.2000, p. 26).
 OJ L 148, 21.6.1996, p. 1.
 OJ L 130, 26.5.1999, p. 18.