Answer given by Ms Ferrero-Waldner on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission is aware of China's importance in the fur industry and trade and of the concerns raised regarding animal welfare.
2. In order to address some of these concerns, the import of cat and dog fur, including from China, was banned by Regulation (EC) No 1523/2007. Member States are primarily responsible for the implementation of this regulation. However, they have to inform the Commission of the analytical methods they use to identify the species of origin of the fur and to notify the Commission of the rules laid down on penalties applicable to infringements of this regulation.
3. Concerning the labelling of the rearing methods, the Commission adopted, on 28 October 2009, a Report to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on options for animal welfare labelling and the establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals. In the impact assessment following the report, several options for animal welfare labelling are considered, including mandatory labelling of farming systems. The aim of the report is to facilitate an in-depth debate with the other Institutions. The outcome of this discussion will provide the basis for the Commission’s reflections in shaping possible future policy options.
With regards to indications on the country of origin of imports, the Commission proposal for a mandatory origin marking scheme for imports of certain goods from third countries foresees compulsory origin labelling inter alia for articles of apparel, clothing accessories and other articles of fur skin, artificial fur and articles thereof (CN codes 4303/4304). The Commission remains supportive of its proposal and looks forward to its adoption.
The Commission is currently assessing the feasibility of introducing labelling for leather and leather articles and the scope of such a label.
Finally, the Commission notes that since 2007, the fur industry has in place a voluntary label called Origin Assured (OA™). The mark gives assurance that the fur in a garment or fur product that bears an OA™ mark originates from a country where national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are in force. Only fur from approved species, sourced from approved countries, which is sold through participating auction houses, is entitled to carry the OA™ mark. The initiative was developed by the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) in collaboration with four leading international fur auction houses. The programme is administered by the IFTF and monitored by an international monitoring organisation.
-  Regulation (EC) No 1523/2007 of Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 banning the placing on the market and the import to, or export from, the Community of dog and cat fur, and products containing such fur, OJ L 343, 27.12.2007.
-  The report and the documents following the report are available on the website of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers at the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/farm/labelling_en.htm
-  COM(2005)661 final.