"Made in" labels could become compulsory for clothes

Country of origin labels should become compulsory for clothes sold in Europe said the European Parliament on Tuesday when it approved an update of the EU clothes labeling scheme, stressing the need for mandatory and harmonized legislation in this field.

According to the press release from the European Parliament, a mandatory country of origin labeling scheme would ensure that the consumers are not misled by the labels suggesting they were made in an EU Member State.

Made in" labels are currently voluntary in the EU but in practice their use depends on national laws. In comparison, country of origin labeling is strictly regulated in, for example, the USA, Canada and Japan.

Current EU legislation on textile labeling applies only to the harmonization of textile fiber names - there are currently 48 fibers (18 natural and 30 synthetic) sold on the single market - and the labeling of the fiber composition of textile products.

Although Parliament was initially asked to vote only on a technical proposal by the Commission (aiming at cutting the time taken to place new fibers on the market), MEPs turned this into a more political proposal, to make country of origin labeling mandatory in the new regulation.

To help consumers to make informed choices, MEPs also asked the Commission to produce a report within two years, and if necessary a proposal for legislation to impose the new labeling requirements EU-wide. This report should examine the harmonized requirements on care labeling (currently voluntary), clothing and footwear sizes, on health and safety warnings (flammability, possible allergenic substances) and on social labeling.

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