“Made in EU” Product Origin Marking

(From European Commission archive) Trust is the pillar of the economy. If consumers do not trust a product, they do not buy it. In a market of 500 million people, personal knowledge of a seller or of a manufacturer can guide consumers’ choices only for a limited number of goods. For all others, we need to have indicators that make products more traceable, and therefore more trustable.

If buyers can easily trace the origin of a product, they feel safer and have one more reason to shop. A recent Commission proposal for introducing a compulsory ‘Made in’ label for all consumer products sold in the EU is an important response to such a request from the market.

At the moment, there are hardly any rules, and manufacturers have no obligation to indicate on their labels the exact origin of their products. This is an advantage for unfair businesses which use fake labels or no labels at all.

And it is a danger for consumers, as it means that hazardous goods face fewer hurdles to freely circulate in the EU’s market. National authorities are still unable to trace the provenance of one in ten of all dangerous products seized in the EU.

To end this chaotic situation, many EU countries have tried in the past to introduce rules on national origin labeling. But if these attempts were turned into real laws, as national rules may differ from country to country, there would be a risk of further confusion and harm to legitimate businesses.

“Following several requests from the European Parliament and actions from different EU countries, the European Commission decided to propose a new regulation requiring that consumer products bear an indication of the country of origin. Compulsory labels of origin have already proved very effective to increase consumers’ confidence in food products, as they made it easier to trace their producers. Extending origin labels to all consumer goods will give a further boost to the EU’s internal market.”

The Commission proposal aims to prevent this. Consumers will get a better protection all across the EU, and at the same time common rules will prevent new national barriers being caused by diverging national legislation on origin labeling.

Information on product origins is crucial to take concrete action against wrongdoers, and therefore represents a powerful deterrent against the sale of unsafe products.

Honest manufacturers should welcome this proposal, as it will increase consumer trust and in parallel their appetite for shopping. Producers should also be aware that the use of the ‘Made in’ label will not generate extra red tape or costs.

The label will allow a great level of flexibility. The general “Made in the EU” label can be used for all goods which underwent their last substantial transformation in a EU country. But European manufacturers will remain free to choose a relevant national label, such as ‘Made in Germany’ or ‘Made in UK’, if they wish to do so.

18/07/2014

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