Antonio Tajani, the European Commissioner for Industry, told a restricted group of representatives of trade publications and the press in Paris a few days ago that he had 22 different alternative proposals for a comprise that would lead to the passage of new regulations for the mandatory labelling of the origin for non-food products imported from outside the European Union.
Expressing confidence that the European Council will pass the controversial measure, he said that German government officials, who have consistently opposed the measures in the last years, have become more “flexible” lately. He noted that several German members of the European Parliament voted in favor of regulations at a meeting of its internal market committee that approved them as part of a wider package of regulations for the safety of consumers last Oct. 16.
Large shoe producers like Italy have been trying to get the mandatory labels of origin approved by the EU. According to Tajani, who has been championing the cause for many years, the remaining differences of opinion among the governments of the EU concern mainly the definition of criteria used to determine where the product comes from. The text of the proposed regulations indicates that it should be the country where the last “substantial” and “economically justified” transformation has taken place.
At the meeting in Paris, Tajani pointed out that the proposed set of consumer protection measures should be considered as one of the ways in which the EU would be able to reach its objective of raising the proportion of the gross national product generated by industrial activities from 15.5 to 20 percent by the year 2020. The ratio currently stands at around 23 percent in Germany and 15.6 percent in Italy, but only 9.9 percent in France.
Among other topics, Tajani pleaded in Paris for greater coordination in the industrial policies of the member countries of the EU, better access to financing and greater support for applied research instead of fundamental research. He called for more generalized internship programs for youngsters, like those that organized in Germany, and for stronger participation in the Erasmus program for entrepreneurs.
Jean-Pierre Renaudin, president of the French and European shoe industry federations, called on the EU to help promote the communication among the shoe industries of the various European countries. He also proposed the establishment of a fund that would help European entrepreneurs to take over the brands of bankrupt companies before they are snapped up by Asian or other interests. Tajani said that this might be difficult to implement from a legal standpoint.
Representatives of the French textile, apparel, footwear and luxury goods industries participated in the Paris meeting with Tajani. They made many proposals to improve counselling, financing, training and intellectual property protection in their sectors. Similar workshops have taken place in Milan, Madrid and Berlin in preparation for a conference scheduled to take place in London on Dec. 4 to help develop a European program for the fashion and luxury goods industries.