The Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have voted in favour of making ‘made-in’ labeling mandatory for non-food products sold on the single market, as a measure to tighten up product safety requirements and market surveillance rules so as to strengthen consumer protection in the EU.
The mandatory ‘made-in’ labeling, to be applicable to apparel and clothing accessories as well, is being championed particularly by luxury and fashion-oriented countries like Italy, Spain and France.
“Mandatory ‘made in’ labeling would improve the traceability of goods and thus strengthen consumer protection, said MEPs, who backed the European Commission's proposal that mandatory ‘made-in’ labelling in Europe for non-food products should replace the current voluntary system. Today, around 10 percent of goods picked up by the EU’s RAPEX alert system cannot be traced back to the manufacturer,” said a European Parliament press release.
"This is a big step forward for transparency in the product supply chain, and that is good for consumers", said Parliament's rapporteur on product safety Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK). She deeply regretted that EU member states have not agreed on a common position due to differences over this one issue and are thus blocking negotiations on the regulation as a whole, to the detriment of consumer safety in Europe.
Under the proposal, EU manufacturers would be able to choose whether to put “made in EU” on the label or name their country. For goods produced in more than one place, the “country of origin” would be that where it underwent "the last substantial, economically justified processing" resulting in a "new product" or representing "an important stage of manufacture" (as defined in the EU Customs Code).
To ensure that crime does not pay, MEPs want penalties to be "proportionate and dissuasive" and also to take account of the seriousness, duration and intentional or recurring character of the infringement as well as the size of the company, said the press release.
MEPs also propose that the Commission should draw up a public EU-wide blacklist of firms which are "repeatedly found to intentionally infringe" EU product safety rules. They further suggest establishing a pan-European database on product related injuries suffered by consumers.
"This legislation is a major step towards more powerful, coordinated and risk-based pan-European surveillance. Better surveillance means safer products for European citizens", said Parliament's rapporteur on the market surveillance regulation Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI).
At present, the country of origin labels are voluntary in the European Union. The debate on consumer product safety legislation will resume in the European Parliament later this year. The first reading of the legislation, which has been voted in favour, can now be taken up by the new Parliament and used as a basis for further negotiations with EU member states.