Feta from Denmark?

Since 2002, with the adoption of Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2002, "Feta" has been a so-called protected designation of origin under Section 126 (1) of the German Trademark Act (MarkenG) for salted cheese from Greece. A protected designation of origin means that the production, processing and manufacture of a product take place in a specific geographical area in accordance with a recognized and established procedure. Thus, the protected designation of origin, which is marked in red, goes even further than the requirements of the protected geographical indication, where only one production step must take place in a specific area.

However, Denmark in particular had failed to prevent producers based there from marketing brine cheese produced in Denmark as "Feta." The EU Commission has therefore reprimanded Denmark on several occasions. In the proceedings before the European Court of Justice, Advocate General Tamara Capeta has now stated in her opinion that Denmark has violated its obligations under Union law by exporting cheese to third countries using the name "Feta".

By exporting cheese produced in its own country under the name "Feta" to third countries, Denmark is in breach of Regulation (EU) 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. In doing so, however, Denmark's conduct does not constitute a breach of the duty of loyal conduct under Article 4(3) TEU, according to Capeta. Systems based on the rule of law decided such disputes by empowering courts to decide in which sense the law should be interpreted. The question in which sense the law is to be interpreted must be open to challenge in liberal democracies, and the party whose understanding the court does not confirm must not be regarded as disloyal to the legal system merely because he is mistaken. It would be different if a Member State, after the Court had interpreted the law, continued to apply it contrary to that interpretation.

The Advocate General's Opinion is not binding on the ECJ, but the latter generally follows it in its judgments.

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