New EU Product Labeling

News | Vienna Review | May 2011

A law requiring EU clothing companies to clearly label products by manufacturing sites, passed by the EU Parliament Oct. 21 is expected to come into effect this year. Although some liability existed in the past, the "Made in …" statement on the labels did not always reflect a product’s true origin, consumer advocates say. The new law seeks to close this loophole.

Accurate labels is expected to protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing outsider or unsafe goods, and to provide more transparency regarding manufacturing processes.

"The law is a way of responding to people’s concerns on quality and safety," says Kader Arif, the international trade spokesman and a member of the European Parliament.

While some textile companies such as H&M have already volunteered to include their manufacturing information, others argue that providing information on outsourcing companies may deter consumers from buying their products. Critics complain that the law does not identify fair-trade products and does little to create an international labeling standard.

"This is a short-term fix," explains Dennis de Jong, a Dutch Socialist parliamentarian member. "In the long-run what people really want is a good-quality product from environmentally friendly companies which do not resort to child labor."

- Jodi Keen

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