"Made in" (country of origin) labels should be made mandatory for textiles imported from third countries and sold in the EU, so that consumers are not misled, said the Internal Market Committee on Tuesday, amending a new draft law on textile labelling. For products made in the EU, origin marking would be voluntary.
The committee, voting at the second reading, reinstated most of Parliament's first-reading amendments, on indicating the country of origin, labelling of animal-derived materials and a review clause for possible new labelling requirements, which had not been taken up by the Council.
The draft law aims to simplify existing textile labelling rules, so as to encourage the development and use of new fibres. It should encourage textile and clothing innovation, whilst making it easier for fibre users and consumers to benefit from innovative products.
Although Parliament was initially asked to vote only on a technical proposal by the Commission (to cut the time it takes to place new fibres on the market), MEPs turned this into a more political one, by seeking to make country of origin labelling mandatory.
"Made in" labels mandatory for imported textiles
The only way to ensure that consumers are not deceived by labels implying that textiles were made in the EU when they were in fact made in a third country is to make "made in" labels mandatory, MEPs insisted. The labelling may be in any EU official language.
"The current absence of harmonised rules on origin marking puts the EU at a disadvantage vis-à-vis its main trade partners, such as Canada, China, Japan, and the USA, who require origin marking for imported goods", stressed rapporteur Toine Manders (ALDE, NL), who is steering the legislation through Parliament. "Origin marking would facilitate consumer choice and contribute to reducing fraudulent, inaccurate or misleading claims of origin", he added.
A textile product shall be deemed to originate in an EU-country only if it underwent at least two of the following stages of manufacture: spinning, weaving, finishing or making-up, says the committee.
Labelling of animal-derived materials
Consumers still risk inadvertently purchasing real fur products when they would in fact prefer not to do so. Fur can also be a potential health hazard for those suffering from allergies to animal fur/hair. Mandatory fur labelling would thus enable consumers to identify products that may be damaging to their health, says the committee.
MEPs inserted a requirement to indicate the presence of non-textile parts of animal origin in textile products in the labelling or marking of these products "whenever they are made available on the market".
EU legislation: new labelling requirements may be needed
To help consumers to make informed choices, MEPs also asked the Commission to produce a report within two years, and if necessary to propose legislation to introduce the new labelling requirements EU-wide. This report should examine, for example, harmonised requirements on care labelling (currently voluntary), clothing and footwear sizes, on health and safety warnings (flammability, possible allergenic substances), and on social labelling for the future.
Self-employed tailors exempted
MEPs stipulate that the new rules would not apply to textile products made up by self-employed tailors who work from their own homes or run independent firms.
The committee recommendation for Parliament's second reading was approved with 30 votes in favour, 2 against and 4 abstentions.
In the chair: Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)
Procedure: co-decision, second reading
Plenary vote: May (tbc)