Two European trade bodies have launched a legal appeal over a move by Swiss authorities to limit the use of the term 'Absinthe' by geographical region.

The Federal Office of Swiss Agriculture is set to register the name 'Absinthe', 'Fée Verte' and 'La Bleue' as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). The move would mean that only drinks produced in the Swiss district of Val-de-Travers would be allowed to take these names. 

However, the European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) and the French Spirit Federation said on Friday (14 September) that they have launched an appeal at Switzerland's Federal Adminsitrative Court over the proposal. The groups say Absinth is the "common name of a plant used in the production" of a drink bearing the same name. 

“The generic term 'Absinth' is not used to designate a product coming exclusively from the Swiss District of the Val-de-Travers”, said Paul Skehan, CEPS' director general. 

He added: "We believe this interpretation is shared by the EU Commission, which is about to adopt a generic definition for Absinth in the EU spirits regulation.”

The group claimed that if the decision stood, "no producers outside those in the Val-de-Travers district would be allowed to sell their products, not only in Switzerland, but in any other countries". 

"This would lead to significant economic consequences for producers being refused access to certain markets," the group added. 

Skehan said: "The only acceptable solution is for the Val-de-Travers producers to change their position and request the register of a protected denomination called 'Absinth of Val-de-Travers' instead of just 'Absinth' as currently done in France for the 'Absinth of Pontarlier'.

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