STA, 11 August 2022 - Italy's allegations about Slovenia's violations of EU legislation on geographically protected balsamic vinegar are unfounded, the Slovenian Agriculture Ministry told the STA on Thursday as it responded to recent reports that the Italian government is demanding infringement proceedings against Slovenia.
At the beginning of this week, news broke that the Italian government has called on the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against Slovenia to safeguard the authenticity of Italy's geographically protected balsamic vinegar.
Italy has been opposing Slovenia's draft regulation on vinegar and dilute acetic acid quality for a year and a half now, as they believe it would broaden the definition of balsamic vinegar.
Given that the European Commission has not issued any binding opinion on this, and based on an EU court decision from 2019 that ruled in favour of a German company selling its vinegar products under the label balsamic, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food is confident that the regulation in question is not contrary to EU law.
They have been informed about Italy's moves through media reports alone. "We have not received any official information from either Italy or the European Commission," they wrote in their response.
The allegations are unfounded because balsamic vinegar is a generic term in common use and not in conflict with protected geographical terms registered by Italy, they said. The label Aceto Balsamico di Modena is protected, whereas non-geographical words used in this expression, such as "aceto" and "balsamico" and their combinations or translations are not.
Slovenia notified the EU of the regulation in December 2020, after which only Italy expressed strong opposition to the document in early March 2021. Slovenia then responded to the formal objection, but so far no feedback has been received from Italy or the Commission.
The ministry moreover noted that the regulation did not wish to do any harm to the reputation of protected Italian balsamic vinegar, as Slovenian products in this field would be marketed the same way as they have been so far.