Volume IX, 3-2010
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YES to „Made In“

For better protection of national products and better protection of consumers, some world economies require an indication of the country of origin on imported products. The EU is also considering, whether to impose an obligatory origin marking on products imported into the EU.

In December 2005, after discussions with companies and business organisations, consultative bodies of the Commission and consumers´ organisations, the Commission submitted a proposal for a Council: Regulation on the indication of the country of origin of certain products imported from third countries (COM(2005)661).

Categories of products that may be included are: leather, footwear, textiles and clothing, ceramics and glass products, jewellery, furniture, brushes and others. Fishery, aquaculture products and foodstuffs would not be covered by this regulation.

In the CEBRE survey carried out in cooperation with BusinessInfo.cz, 95% of Czech businesses supported obligatory origin marking on specific products imported into the EU. More than 93 % of them are in favour of requesting obligatory origin marking on imported food. Indication of the country of origin would put the EU on an equal footing with the conditions of the world market, as the key trade partners of the EU (Canada, China, Japan and USA) require the origin marking of goods entering their markets. It would avoid misguided information about the country of origin, increase the transparency and provide better information for European consumers (but also producers) who, in principle, prefer familiar local products in which they have confidence. If the proposed regulation will be adopted, European producers could become more competitive in world markets.

However, the indication of the country of origin is hardly feasible in a globalised world. For example, if Czech porcelain is imported to China for decoration, once back in the EU it is marked Made In China. But Member States are still divided on this issue. Last October, they tried to reach an agreement on a compromise document and came up with a new proposal. However, the foodstuffs and unfinished products are missing from the list, even though these have the greatest potential for harming consumers´ health.

Chinese milk containing melanin or honeys from foreign countries can be very harmful for people with allergies. Knowledge of the country origin (and not regional grouping) of certain foodstuffs is essential in some cases. More work must be done on the proposal implementation and on mechanisms of sanctions and controls. The Lisbon treaty gives more power to the European Parliament. And so from now on, MEPs will co-decide with the Council on the country of origin proposal. This gives us some hope for the future.

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Other articles in this issue:

New Power for European Transport
ENERGIZING EUROPE: Rules for EU ETS auctioning platform finally proposed