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Document 52009AE1928

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on textile names and related labelling of textile products’ COM(2009) 31 final/2 — 2009/0006 (COD)

OJ C 255, 22.9.2010, p. 37–41 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

22.9.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 255/37


458TH PLENARY SESSION HELD ON 16 AND 17 DECEMBER 2009

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on textile names and related labelling of textile products’

COM(2009) 31 final/2 — 2009/0006 (COD)

(2010/C 255/06)

Rapporteur: Mr CAPPELLINI

On 27 February 2009 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on textile names and related labelling of textile products

COM(2009) 31 final/2 – 2009/0006(COD).

The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 17 November 2009. The rapporteur was Mr Cappellini.

At its 458th plenary session held on 16 and 17 December 2009 (meeting of 16 December), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 160 votes with 1 abstention.

1.   Conclusion and recommendations

1.1   The EESC supports the initiative of the European Commission on textile products – names and labelling which might represent an important step to increased innovation processes and societal solutions in the EU textile industry as well as increasing the awareness and information of the European consumer, in particular in a period of crisis. The European Economic and Social Committee underlines, as already stated in previous EESC Opinions and Information Reports on the future of textile industry (1), the urgent need for the sector to develop coherent and integrated policies, including labelling, for its competitive advantage.

1.2   The EESC welcomes the Regulation and supports Article 4 on national legal framework concerning product of origin and competition laws.

1.3   The EESC asks the European Commission and the interested stakeholders to monitor how the proposed Regulation will influence:

the European Strategic Research agenda in the development and uptake of new fibres and innovative textile products and transparency;

the simplification of the existing legal framework with its potential positive impacts for private stakeholders and public administrations at EU and national/regional level;

the improvement of a more coherent existing regulatory framework (2).

1.4   The EESC confirms the importance of respecting the need for consumers to be provided with clear, comprehensive, complete product information in particular when dealing with textile products and supports the Commission initiative in its attempt of simplifying the procedures and cost reduction today required in the transposition of a Directive.

1.5   The EESC wishes to have a systematic involvement of civil society, wider textile social partners and institutional stakeholders, in the Committee for Textile Names and Labelling (Article 20 of Regulation proposal). Regular review systems of the Regulation should also be taken, into consideration in order to gain competitive advantage of other international industries’ textile labelling and standards (see EU industry textile markets (3)). Once entered into force, a more participative review of the proposed Regulation, could also facilitate an open debate on most health problems (e.g. allergies, ionization indexes) connected with textile products which are related not to the fibres themselves but to the chemicals introduced in the production chain i.e. for dyeing and softening or to the mechanical processes like combing or carding.

1.6   In accompanying the direct enforcement of the present Regulation, the EESC proposes a targeted information campaign on textile products – names and labelling and sector specific studies in partnership with SMEs organisations, research centres, consumers, textile producers. These actors might have a major role to play in terms of reinforcing the importance of environmentally sustainable fibres and products as well as in growing awareness of market potential.

1.7   This initiative could also facilitate an open debate on ‘not mandatory’ labelling on textile finished products such as clothes regarding conservation and cleaning (symbols for ironing, washing, bleaching, etc.), but this information is optional because there is no EU obligation on this matter. The introduction of a system similar to the one used by Ginetex (4), in compliance with ISO 3758 or even the adoption of the U.S. ASTM D-5489 standard might have added-value especially to the end user. This will ensure, among others, that:

the life of textile products can be prolonged;

products will not be damaged, non damage other products during care treatments;

dry cleaners can be clear on appropriate and suitable treatments;

products retain their appearance;

an informed choice would be made at the point of sale as to whether an article is suitable.

Moreover, a wide application of conservation and cleaning labels will consequently reduce the energy and water consumption related to textile caring.

1.8   The implementation of such a regulation would also approach the EU to other similar regulations used in third markets like the US (5), Japan (6), Australia (7), etc.

1.9   There are thousands of chemical substances used in the textile sector, with a non-specified mixture of other added substances, some of them toxic; these are used in dyeing and other fabric transformations. In the EU, toxic substances are preventively selected, eliminated or treated, in compliance with environmental and sanitarian laws. The EESC proposes a close connection between textile labelling Regulation and the REACH Regulation and platform with the purpose of procedure simplification and speeding, avoiding over-accumulation.

2.   Background

2.1   The EU legislation on Textile Names and Labelling is based on Article 95 of the EC Treaty. It aims at establishing an Internal Market for textile products while ensuring that consumer receive appropriate information. Member States recognised in the 1970's the need for harmonisation of Community legislation in the area of textile names. Different (non-harmonised) textile fibre names in the EU Member States would create a technical barrier to trade in the Internal Market. In addition, consumer interests would be better protected if the information provided in this area was the same throughout the Internal Market.

2.2   The EU textile industry has undertaken a lengthy process of restructuring, modernisation and technological progress in response to the significant economic challenges faced by the sector in recent years. European businesses, notably SMEs, have improved their global position by concentrating on competitive advantages such as quality, design, innovation and products with higher added-value. The EU industry plays a leading role at world level in the development of new products, technical textiles and non-wovens for novel applications such as geo-textiles, hygiene products, the automotive industry or the medical sector.

2.3   A key area for research is the development of new speciality fibres and fibre composites for innovative textile products, identified as one of the thematic priorities in the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textile and Clothing. Fibre innovation at the upstream end of the textile value adding chain is a powerful source of new products, processing options and application areas in many downstream user sectors (8). In fact, the number of requests for new fibre names to be added to EU legislation has increased in recent years and this trend is expected to consolidate as the European textile sector evolves into a more innovative industry.

2.4   Applications for new fibre names have been submitted by a number of different businesses, including both large and small firms. Industry indicates that, in general, 90-95 % of R&D activities are focussed on improvements and developments on existing fibres. Although only 5-10 % of R&D activities are likely to result in a fibre requiring a new generic name, these new fibres generate often new uses and technological processes in a wide number of domains such as clothing, medical, environmental and industrial applications.

2.5   In the last years, eight new fibres were added to the technical annexes of the Directives by way of amendments:

Directive 97/37/EC (9) added four new fibres to the list of fibre names (cashgora, lyocell, polyamide, aramid).

Directive 2004/34/EC (10) added the new fibre polylactide to the list of fibre names.

Directive 2006/3/EC (11) added the new fibre elastomultiester to the list of fibre names.

Directive 2007/3/EC (12) added the new fibre elastolefin to the list of fibre names.

Directive 2009/121/EC (13) added the fibre melamine to the list of fibres.

2.6   It is expected that that the number of new fibres added to the technical annexes is likely to increase in the coming years. Industry (as represented by BISFA (14)) noted that the future trend is difficult to predict. However, it also suggested two applications a year as a realistic estimate (15).

2.7   The current proposal does not modify the political balance between Member States and EU. A Committee is foreseen to assist the Commission and give an opinion on the implementing measures proposed to amend the regulation, following the rules of a regulatory committee with scrutiny. This is the case today with existing Directives.

2.8   The idea for a revision of the Textile Names legislation came to light in recent years as a result of the experience developed with regular technical amendments to introduce new fibre names into the existing Directives. The revision of the EU legislation on Textile Names and Labelling (16) was announced in 2006 in the ‘First progress report on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment’ (17) and was included in the Commission Legislative and Work Programme for 2008.

2.9   The reason of this revision is summed as follows:

to simplify the existing legal framework with potential positive impacts for private stakeholders and public administrations. Thus, the revision of this legislation aims to speed up the introduction and availability of new fibres;

to simplify and improve the existing regulatory framework for the development and uptake of novel fibres;

to encourage innovation in the textile and clothing sector and to allow fibre users and consumers to benefit faster from innovative products;

to enhance the transparency of the process;

to add new fibres to the list of harmonised fibre names;

to introduce more flexibility to adapt legislation in order to keep up with the needs of the technological developments expected in the textiles industry.

2.10   It is not an objective of the revision to extend EU legislation to other labelling requirements beyond the fibre composition and the harmonisation of textile fibre names covered by the existing Directives.

3.   Consultation process on the Directive revision

3.1   Due to the limited scope of this revision, a targeted consultation of interested parties was conducted. Stakeholders participated in the consultation process: industry and retail associations, trade unions, consumer organisations, European standardisation bodies, as well as national administrations.

3.2   Stakeholders and Member States representatives were invited to present their views, suggestions and proposals during a period going from January to August 2008, in the framework of the meetings organised by the Commission services and in writing.

3.3   The main feed back from this targeted stakeholders consultation is summed up as follows:

introducing new fibre names in the European legislation is important to promote innovation in the European industry and from the perspective of consumer's information;

the political content of technical amendments to the Textile Names legislation does not justify the heavy procedures and costs involved in the transposition of a Directive; therefore

a lighter legislative solution should be used.

3.4   Results of the consultation process are available in the Impact Assessment report and its annexes.

4.   Impact assessment

4.1   Based on the results of the stakeholder consultation and on the study ‘Simplification of EU Legislation in the Field of Textile Names and Labelling – an Impact Assessment of Policy Options’ (18), the Commission carried out an impact assessment of the various policy options to achieve the objectives set out above.

4.2   The Impact Assessment Board of the European Commission assessed the draft version of the impact assessment report prepared by the relevant service and approved it subject to some modifications (19).

4.3   Analysis and comparison of the various options and their impact lead to the following conclusions:

The inclusion of guidance on the contents of the application file and the recognition of laboratories to assist companies in compiling the file show potential benefits if they result in the submission of application files more in line with the requirements of the Commission services. This could bring significant time savings for both industry and public authorities.

The greatest benefits for industry arise from reducing the time taken between an application for a new fibre name being submitted and the ability to place the fibre on the market with the new name. This means savings in administrative costs and earlier realisation of revenue from sale of the fibre.

The greatest benefits to Member State authorities result from replacing the Directives with a Regulation, because they would no longer need to transpose the amendments into national legislation. This could generate significant cost savings to Member States.

The revision will retain the benefits for consumers of certainty that the named fibres meet specified characteristics. Consumers may also gain additional benefits from new fibres reaching the market earlier.

5.   General objectives

5.1   The benefit of this Regulation should always inspire the practice of fostering R&D, innovation and technology, facilitate partnerships within the EU/national/regional public administrations and research centres, improve existing training and technical skills, market products with high added value in the Internal Market and third markets (20), ensure sustainable development and consumption models.

5.2   The present Regulation should also be a valuable contribution to:

Added-value to the textile and related industry, to EU know-how and to economic growth.

More transparency for consumers and new consumption models.

Increased participation of civil society to the MONITORING of the present Regulation.

6.   Specific objectives

6.1   The fibre name should inform to the fullest on what that fibre is, in opposition with i.e. US regulation that has a different approach (21). This specification comes in accordance with BISFA's methodology that states the generic name shall give the chemical information on the dominating monomer part of the fibre polymer, and/or in addition key unique fibre properties or process technologies.

6.2   Label information should be real, while omission of this item is not clear in the regulation, some articles in the regulation don't oblige full information in the label, i.e. in article 9 (multi-fibre textile products) labelling is optional between full identification and the identification of the fibre with an excess of 85 % in mass of the textile. This information although real is not complete if option (a) or (b) of the referred article is selected. Hence, also the final 15 % should be indicated in the label if we want real and complete information.

6.3   All characteristics presented by the manufacturer must be indicated, this comes in accordance to what is expected in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th indexes of annex II of the proposed Regulation.

6.4   Regarding costs and temporal constraints, estimated temporal constraints are as follows but the time taken for application preparation is not included (depends on applicant being more or less expeditious in the preparation) (22):

Assessment of Application, 1 to 3 months;

Convening Working Group, 3 months;

JRC & Ring Trials, 6 to 9 months;

Report on Technical Examination, 1 to 3 months;

Draft Proposals, 1 to 3 months;

Regulation Amended, 6 to 12 months.

6.5   Cost savings for the industry were considered in two scenarios, a high cost scenario and a low cost scenario, both with upper and lower bounds, but ultimately savings range from €47 500 to €600 000 for each application. Potential benefits were also considered by avoiding 6 to 21 months delay in placing a fibre on the market, either by delay in revenue and/or loss of revenue. These figures range from €2 000 to €3 500 000. 25 % savings on the JRC costs were considered in the cost savings for public authorities, this would result in cost cuttings of around €75 000 to €100 000 per fibre (15).

6.6   When a new fibre is quickly entering the market, the time taken in the different steps for the assessment and approval of the more recent applications (the last five years) was in the best case scenario 36 months and up to 66 in the worst case. In application of the new Regulation the estimated time for the procedure is 18 to 33 months. This means that the estimated required time will decrease 50 % in both best and worst case scenarios (15).

Brussels, 16 December 2009.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Mario SEPI


(1)  The textile, clothing and footwear sector is a key part of the EU-27's manufacturing industry. With around 250 000 businesses and turnover of approximately EUR 240 billion, it accounts for about 4 % of the overall added value of the EU-27's entire manufacturing industry (about half of which derives from the textile segment alone). The sector, which is the only sector to employ more women than men in the EU (64,5 %), with its 3,2 million employees, also accounts for 9,3 % of employment in the EU-27's manufacturing industry, the largest share of which is in the clothing sector (around 1,5 million). The EU is the main target market and the main exporter in the sector, with a world share of close to 20 % (2005 data). CCMI/041.

For more information on Textile trends and criticalities please consult CCMI Information Report available at:

http://eescregistry.eesc.europa.eu/viewdoc.aspx?doc=%5C%5Cesppub1 %5Cesp_public%5Cces%5Cccmi%5Cccmi041 %5Cen%5Cces1572-2007_fin_ri_en.doc.

(2)  One of the directives (Directive 96/74/EC) that is to be replaced by the regulation was already replaced by 2008/121/EC. If the new Regulation comes in effect both Regulation and Directive should be coherent.

(3)  17 KEY MARKETS - Source: Euratex

ASIA: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia

NORTH AMERICA: United-States, Canada

CENTRAL AMERICA: Mexico

SOUTH AMERICA: Brazil, Argentina, Chile

OCEANIA: Australia

AFRICA: South Africa.

(4)  GINETEX: Groupement international d’étiquetage pour l’entretien des textiles.

(5)  Care labelling of textile wearing apparel and certain piece goods - 16 CFR Part 423.

(6)  Japanese Industrial Standard for Care Labelling.

(7)  Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1957:1998 - ‘Textiles - Care labelling’.

(8)  See the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing.

(9)  OJ L 169, 27.6.1997, p. 74.

(10)  OJ L 89, 26.3.2004, p. 35.

(11)  OJ L 5, 10.1.2006, p. 14.

(12)  OJ L 28, 3.2.2007, p. 12.

(13)  OJ L 242, 15.9.2009, p. 13.

(14)  BISFA: International Bureau for the Standardisation of Man-Made Fibres.

(15)  Source: Impact Assessment Report on Simplification of EU legislation in the field of textile names and labelling.

(16)  Directives 96/74/EC (as amended), 96/73/EC (as amended) and 73/44/EEC.

(17)  COM(2006) 690 final.

(18)  Study available at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/textile/documents/dir2008_0121_study.pdf.

(19)  http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SEC:2009:0091:FIN:EN:PDF.

(20)  To bear in mind that EU textiles face severe often ‘NON TARIFF BARRIERS’ in accessing to third markets. Requirements or practices concerning marking, labelling, the description or composition of the product which are discriminatory as compared with domestic products.

(21)  Source: Rules and regulations under the textile fiber products identification act - 16 CFR Part 303.

(22)  BISFA: International Bureau for the Standardisation of Man Made Fibres.


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