Recently, a Regulation1 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on textile fiber names and related labeling and marking of the fiber composition of textile products. This Regulation, applicable from May 8, 2012, repeals Directive 73/44/EEC and Directives 96/73/EC and 2008/121/EC.

In the past, European legislation on this subject was specified in various Directives. Directives need to be transposed into the national legislation of the EU Member States, which takes time and - in some cases - may lead to interpretation differences.

To avoid the need for Member States to transpose the new rules into their own national legislation and in the interest of clarity, these were adopted as a Regulation. The new EU Regulation revises rules on the use of textile fiber names, labeling, marking and determination of the fiber composition of textile products,2 with a view toward harmonizing the requirements within the EU and to provide accurate information to consumers.

Article 4 of the Regulation states that textile products may only be made available on the EU market3 when such products are labeled, marked or accompanied by commercial documents in compliance with the new Regulation. Article 15 states that the manufacturer of the textile product must ensure the supply of the label or marking and the accuracy of the information contained therein when placing a textile product on the market.4 If the manufacturer is not established in the EU, the importer of the textile product is responsible for meeting these requirements. Under the Regulation, a distributor shall be considered a manufacturer where he places a product on the market under his name or trademark, attaches the label himself or modifies the content of the label. When making a textile product available on the market, the distributor shall ensure that textile products bear the appropriate labeling or marking.

The Regulation contains a number of annexes that, amongst others, include special provisions for the labeling and marking of certain textile products and textile products for which indication of textile fiber names or fiber composition on the labels and markings is not mandatory. The latter applies to, for example, buttons and buckles covered with textile materials, travel goods of textile materials, toys and textile parts of footwear.5 However, under certain conditions, this derogation does not apply. The Regulation also sets out methods for the quantitative analysis of binary and ternary textile fiber mixtures. Textile products that comply with Directive 2008/121/EC and are placed on the EU market before May 8, 2012, may continue to be made available on the market until November 9, 2014.

The new rules are of great importance to actors in the supply chain that are dealing with textile products. As market surveillance authorities will carry out random inspections on the compliance aspect, it deserves recommendation that these actors carefully analyze the new rules and determine the consequences and obligations for their operations going forward.