Tradition is a key element of products which carry a GI, but it is unclear what role innovation plays in this context. There is scarce research about it, even though it is of great importance for today’s economy. Therefore, this project will fill the research gap by focusing on how the factors tradition and innovation influence the EU qualification process of GI products. With the GI regime, the EU protects a type of product which possesses qualities and characteristics linked to its area of production. The GI does not only signal a place of origin, but it indicates a particular product quality or tradition-based reputation which is generated by a specific geographical area. The GI system has been commonly researched within the disciplines of economics and law. The project starts from the hypothesis that tradition is a fundamental pillar of the GI itself and at the same time it can be supported by innovation. This can be qualified as doubtful because the definition of innovation and tradition points towards contradictory concepts. Innovation within the GI scheme, however, is intended to feature improvements or adjustments, which do not disrupt any traditional practices.
Since sustainability is about not compromising the needs of future generations, this type of innovative practice might support a transition towards sustainability, which has always been one of the pillars of the EU policies. Regarding GI products, it is important to consider the way how they are produced and whether this production harms the environment or complies with sustainability criteria. For this reason, the project investigates how GI protection is linked to sustainability, hence displaying the Triple-Bottom Line (TBL) method (economic, social and environmental). In order to reinforce the reasoning behind the TBL approach, a theoretical framework, called TISyn (Tradition-Innovation synergy), was conceived which aims at identifying the motivations and triggers for GI producers to combine tradition and innovation in order to attain the economic, social and environmental elements of sustainability.Previous work carried out in my studies led to the conclusion that not only the economic aspect plays a role but social and environmental factors have an impact on GI qualification as well. The results arising from the first analysis of the data for the development of this individual project, hint towards the positive impacts of combining wisely tradition and innovation. A new framework called GISETI (Geographical Indication Sustainable Entrepreneurship Tradition Innovation) was designed to interpret the results from Germany, Italy and Belgium, which were analyzed through a software-based qualitative content analysis (MAXQDA). The framework entails the concept of a GI entrepreneur, the Triple Bottom-Line (TBL) and the TISyn model. The range of innovations applied is quite heterogenous and depends. Although it can be argued that GI producers follow mainly economic principles to engage in such combination, there is evidence to some extent that also social and environmental motives drive the necessity of upgrading the traditional know-how of production techniques, which in some cases might be outdated.