Cyprus Chessemakers Association challenges the Commission’s decision on halloumi at the Court of Justice of the EU

The Cyprus Cheesemakers Association and 11 other applicants have appealed to the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that the Court should annul the European Commission’s decision to enter the terms ‘Χαλλούμι’ (Halloumi)/’Hellim’ into the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. The claim was filed a few weeks before the decision is set to take effect, on October 1st 2021.

According to the text of the plea, the applicants claim that the European Commission:
– “has conducted a manifest error of assessment on the conformity of the application” with Regulation No 1151/2012 and “failed to properly scrutinize the application”,
– has infringed Regulation No 1151/2012 “by non-verifying the compliance with the procedure laid down” in said regulation,
– “infringed the principle of good administration because of the extreme duration of the procedure of registration”,
– “infringed its obligation to state reasons pursuant to Article 296 of the TFEU and the right of the applicants to an effective remedy” and
– “ infringed the principle of good administration because the Cypriot Courts have annulled the internal national acts on which the contested Regulation is based”.

The action was brought to the Court on June 22nd 2021 as “Syndesmos Tyrokomon Kyprou and Others v Commission” (case Τ-361/21).

According to a press release by the Court of Justice of the EU, Regulation No. 1151/2012 aims to improve the quality of European agricultural products by increasing the coherence of the various quality systems. The “designation of origin” identifies a product originating in a specific place, region or, in exceptional cases, country, the quality or characteristics of which are mainly or exclusively due to the specific geographical environment (which includes the natural and human factors) and of which all stages of production take place within the defined geographical area.

The press release notes that Cyprus applied for a PDO designation for ‘Χαλλούμι’ (Halloumi)/’Hellim’ in July 2014. The application was published by the Commission in 2015. The Commission forwarded all objections to Cyprus, with the exception of those sent by Finland and six natural or legal persons that reside or are based in Cyprus.

The Commission called all interested parties involved in all admissible objections to enter into negotiations, but the negotiations did not result to any agreements.

The Commission adopted implementing regulation 2021/591 in April 2021, which adds ‘Χαλλούμι’ (Halloumi)/’Hellim’ into the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. The regulation is set to take effect on October 1st 2021.

It is noted that adding an agriculture product or food into the PDO register protects the use of the name throughout the European Union.


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