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'MADE IN' LABEL : NEW REGULATION TO CLARIFY DISPARATE LEGISLATIONS.

The European economic area currently provides no legislation on mandatory origin marking of non-food goods. Neither imported products nor domestically manufactured goods need to bear such information: the applicable regulation is that of the member states.

Thus, in the current legislative context, manufacturers are free to mark the origin of their products voluntarily, although it should be noted that indicating an incorrect origin is prohibited by Directive 2005/29/EC on control of unfair commercial practices. But this legislative act does not go further on origin marking, nor does it authorise national customs authorities to control labelling.

According to the Commission, "the absence of these rules has many perverse effects on consumers and the internal market". The proposal is thus going to "ensure that consumers will be correctly informed throughout the EU and that wrong origin marking can be sanctioned".

It is important to note that since 2010, labelling the name and address of the manufacturer is already mandatory for 11 product groups, among them cosmetics and toys. All other products fall under the 2004 revised directive on general product safety, which stipulates that "producers shall provide consumers with the relevant information,, among which "an indication, by means of the product or its packaging, of the identity and details of the producer".

There are currently various ways of determining the country of origin of manufactured goods. They vary from sector to sector. According to the new regulation, the origin of a product, whether it was imported or domestically manufactured, will be determined according to Articles 23 to 25 of the Community Customs Code. Naturally, goods wholly obtained or produced in one single country shall bear a 'made in' tag referring to that country. As for goods whose production involves more than one country, the code stipulates that the country of origin shall be that where these goods "underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working".

Who is going to control 'made in' labels? According to the Commission, this task will be done by national market surveillance authorities, and possibly by other businesses in the supply chain, as well as competitors.

Stakeholders who back the proposal insist on the fact that origin marking is mandatory in other countries. For instance, United States legislation on imports stipulates that every article of foreign origin imported into the US must be marked "legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article will permit" with the English name of the country of origin. This applies to goods destined to final consumers, as well as to products awaiting further processing.

Focus on textile industry

The subject of mandatory origin labelling was heavily discussed during the legislative procedure for the 2011 regulation on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of fibre composition of textile products. It was agreed that the Commission would submit a report to the co-legislators "regarding possible new labelling requirements," including the country of origin. The report was presented but did not address origin marking. So there is currently no obligation to indicate where textile products have been manufactured. Some member states, several Eastern ones for instance, already had specific legislation before entering the EU. Mandatory origin marking is highly controversial within the textile industry. In Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, just as in the European Council, Southern countries are for and Northern countries against.

The European economic area currently provides no legislation concerning mandatory origin marking of non-food goods. Neither imported products nor domestically manufactured goods need to bear such information: the applicable regulation is that of the member states.

Thus, in the current legislative context, manufacturers are free to mark the origin of their products voluntarily, although it should be noted that indicating an incorrect origin is prohibited by the Directive 2005/29/EC on control of unfair commercial practices. But this legislative act does not go further on origin marking, nor does it authorise national customs authorities to control the labelling.

According to the Commission, "the absence of these rules has many perverse effects on consumers and the internal market." The proposal is thus going to "ensure that consumers will be correctly informed throughout the EU and that wrong origin marking can be sanctioned."

It is important to note that since 2010, labelling the name and address of the manufacturer is already mandatory for 11 product groups, among which cosmetics and toys. All other products fall under the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/CE), which stipulated that "producers shall provide consumers with the relevant information", among which "an indication, by means of the product or its packaging, of the identity and details of the producer."

There are currently various ways of determining the country of origin of manufactured goods, and they vary from sector to sector. According to the new regulation, the origin of a product, whether it was imported or domestically manufactured, will be determined according to Articles 23 to 25 of the Community Customs Code. Quite naturally, goods wholly obtained or produced in one single country shall bear a "made in" tag referring to that country. As for goods whose production involves more than one country, the code stipulates that the country of origin shall be that where these goods "underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working."

Who is going to control "made in" labels? According to the Commission, this task will be done by national market surveillance authorities, and possibly by the other businesses in the supply chain, as well as competitors.

Stakeholders who back the proposal insist on the fact that origin marking is mandatory in other countries. For instance, the United States legislation on imports stipulates that every article of foreign origin imported to the US must be marked "legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article will permit" with the English name of the country of origin. This applies to goods destined to final consumers, as well as to products awaiting further processing.

Focus on the textile industry

The subject of mandatory origin labelling was heavily discussed during the legislative procedure for the 2011 Regulation on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of fibre composition of textile products. In the final act, it was agreed that the Commission would submit a report to the co-legislators "regarding possible new labelling requirements", including on the country of origin. The report was presented but didn't address origin marking. So there is currently no obligation to indicate where textile products have been manufactured. Some member states, several Eastern countries for instance, already had specific legislation before entering the EU. Mandatory origin marking is highly controversial inside the textile industry: inside Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, just like in the European Council, Southern countries plead in favour and Northern countries against.
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Publication:European Report
Date:Oct 14, 2013
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