The European Parliament approved last Tuesday a new set of proposals on consumer safety and protection that include the obligation to put a label of origin on shoes and on all other kinds of products sold within the European Union except foods and drugs. The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (Fesi) had opposed this measure.

Officials of the Italian shoe and apparel industry association said they were not only satisfied by the vote, but also “positively surprised” by the overwhelming majority reached in the parliament. They felt that the European Council will necessarily have to take the parliament's strong statement into account when it will finally vote on the new regulations, probably not before September. He noted that it will be Italy's turn to run the EU in the second part of the year, making it more likely that the regulations will be on the council's agenda during its tenure.

No less than 485 of the 766 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the new measures, including socialist members from Austria and Germany, two countries whose industry and government have been consistently opposed to the introduction of the “made in” label. Only 130 voted against and 27 abstained. A German proposal to take out the article on labels of origin from the legislative package was rejected by the majority of the members.

First proposed last February by Antonio Tajani, the Italian Industry Commissioner, after negotiations intended to find a compromise between the promoters and the opponents of the « made in » label, the new regulations are different from those that had been previously discussed and approved by the European Parliament in at least two important ways. If passed by the council, they will be applicable not only to products imported into the EU, as proposed in their former version, but also to those manufactured in the EU.

In the latter instance, manufacturers will have the option to mention the name of their own country – for example Italy, France, Spain or Portugal – or to say that the have been “made in the EU,” which would probably be the choice for shoes made in less promoted locations such as Romania or Slovakia, for example. Like before, the country where the last “substantial” and “economically justified” transformation has taken place will be considered to be the country of origin of the product (more in Shoe Intelligence).