The Polish government is committed to seeking the approval of a regulation introducing origin labeling in the European Union during its presidency ending on Dec. 31. Poland took over the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1 from Hungary.
Hungary had also backed the legislation but failed to present it to the European Council. The council represents the heads of state or government of member states along with the president of the council and the president of the European commission
In October 2010, the European Parliament approved by a large majority a proposal to introduce mandatory origin labeling for five years in the EU for some products, including footwear, manufactured outside the union. Goods produced within the EU, Turkey, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are exempt.
The text resurrected proposals made by the European Commission in 2005 and rejected by the European Council due to the opposition of northern European governments. Since Dec. 1, 2009, the balance of power has shifted in the EU with the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, which has increased the powers of the europarliament, putting it on a par with the council. The parliament, council and commission have to reach a compromise on the bill to avoid an institutional clash.
Cristiana Muscardini, vice chairwoman of the parliament's international trade committee and rapporteur of the document, said that Hungary has held a series of technical meetings that helped promote the text among member states. She added that some countries that were skeptical about the proposal responded positively to the fact that it was a temporary measure. Three years after the implementation of the regulation, the commission will have to carry out a study on its impact. One year before the expiration of the regulation, the parliament and council, on the basis of a proposal submitted by the commission, will decide to extend it or amend it.
Muscardini indicated that the balance of power, in terms of voting clout, between the countries in favor and against the regulation is even within the council. The countries that have expressed support for the text include France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece and Portugal.
Muscardini is due to discuss the schedule for the examination of the text with the Polish authorities in September. The parties already met on June 22 in Brussels. The text resulting from talks between the three EU institutions could lead to alterations of the bill. Muscardini stressed that according to the importance of the changes, the text may have to undergo a second reading in parliament.