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Clearer clothing labels and innovation needed in textile industry
May '11
After a stalling debate, EU institutions finally agreed in April, to simplify the textile regulation. At the European Parliament's plenary session, held on 10 May 2011, Minister of State for EU Affairs of Hungary, Eniko Gyori welcomed the institutions' willingness to reach a compromise, which may encourage innovation in the textile industry and allowing consumers to gain more information.

The European Parliament (EP) is expected to adopt the proposal relating to the Regulation on Textile Names and Labelling, during the second reading. The decision is important because, on the one hand, it puts an end to a stalling debate, and, on the other hand, it simplifies the EU regulation and hence, improves the operation of the single market.

The European Commission submitted the legislative proposal in January 2009. Since then, the EP and the Council have been trying to reach an agreement over the text, for which MEPs approved a total of 63 amendments, at first reading. The proposed regulation would supersede three existing EU directives as of January 2012, which would simplify, inter alia, the authorisation of new textile fibres.

“The new regulation will significantly contribute to the operation of the single market and will enhance competition,” Eniko Gyori stressed in her speech, delivered at the EP's plenary debate on 10 May. According to the Minister of State, the simplification will “encourage innovation in the textile and clothing sector, whilst allowing fibre users and consumers, to benefit more readily from new and innovative products.”

No more furs

During the second reading, the Council accepted the demand of MEPs to indicate the presence of non-textile parts of animal origin in textile products. According to MEPs, this would prevent consumers allergic to animal fur, or animal rights activists from inadvertently buying textile containing animal fur or leather.

“The regulation stipulates that the labels must indicate the exact fibre composition, but it also introduces a new labelling requirement for non-textile parts of animal origin, so that consumers can make more informed decisions,” Eniko Gyori underlined, in the debate over the draft legislation. She added that this legislation took on the form of regulation and therefore, its provisions must be applied directly in all Member States, which will enhance legal security in this field.

Debates on indication of origin

In relation to the regulation, the fiercest debate was sparked off by the indication of the country of origin. The EP wanted to replace voluntary practices with a mandatory indication of the country of origin (“made in”), i.e. with an unambiguous indication of the place of production, to avoid any false or misleading marking.

By contrast, the Council opposed to the initiative on commercial grounds. Eniko Gyori pointed out in the plenary debate: if such mandatory provision was incorporated in the regulation, it would endanger the comprehensive trade policy negotiations about proposal related to the country of origin.

Moreover, the Council and the EP agreed that the Commission should carry out an in-depth study over further requirements of mandatory labelling. “These could include handling instructions, the unification of sizes, the indication of the country of origin and allergic substances, electronic labelling and other technologies,” Eniko Gyori reminded.

Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

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