In our December 2010 issue, the possible implementation of a mandatory EU country of origin marking scheme on certain products, including footwear and textile products, was discussed. This plan has been on the table for many years now but at the end of last year, some movement could be detected. Currently, there are no harmonized EU laws but companies are free to label their products with the country of origin. If they do so, the information on the label should be accurate and correct.

As the Commission’s proposal proved (and still proves-)controversial for some European Member States, the European Council did not (yet) agree on the requirement to be formalized. A second-reading agreement was reached between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Also, the Council requested the Commission present a study — to be completed by September 30, 2013 — on the feasibility of an country of origin labelling scheme. Part of the study will also focus on new technologies for labelling, the feasibility of harmonizing care labelling requirements as well as the use of hazardous substances, specifically to establish whether there is a causal link between allergic reactions and chemical substances used in textile products.

In the meantime, the Parliament did approve the implementation of mandatory labelling requirements of fur and leather parts that are used in textile products. Soon, any use of animal derived materials will need to be clearly marked on the product labels of textile products. In order to distinguish between — for example — real fur and fake fur, textile products containing such products should be labelled “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”. After the Parliament’s approval on the above topic, the new textile labelling rules are still to be formally signed by the Member States, after which a Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It appears that a 2½ year transition period will apply for the industry to adapt to the new requirements.