High level group outlines textile and clothing industry catwalk to 2020

September 21, 2006

Brussels, 20 Sep 2006

The European Commission has adopted the recommendations made by an expert group report, looking at the textile and clothing sector. The recommendations are designed to guide the clothing and textile industry up to 2020. The group insisted that research and innovation are the key to continuing success. The report is an update to the 2004 report, 'The Challenge of 2005 - European Textiles and Clothing in a Quota Free Environment,' which made 36 recommendations to the textile and clothing industry. This new report looks to the future and what needs to be done to keep Europe competitive and innovative.

The group decided to make recommendations in the same areas as the 2004 report:

- For an innovative sector, the group suggest quick identification of potential 'flagship' projects, which can then be moved rapidly to mass-market or specialty products or garments. One such example is the LEAPFROG Integrated Project, funded under the sixth Framework Programme, which aims to find new manufacturing techniques, in turn giving Europe a competitive advantage.

- The EU needs to encourage a skilled workforce by publicising the industry and setting up national and European 'observatories' for training and employment, as well as degree and other higher education courses in textile manufacture and design.

- Reciprocal market access to third markets. Mediterranean partners should complete the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area to strengthen regional economic integration.

- Intellectual property rights protection has already been stepped-up, thanks to the joint declaration between the EU and China in early September 2006.

- The textile and clothing industry needs to make itself more attractive to investors, and promote success stories. The 'Fashion Forum' should coordinate this by liaising between industry and retail sectors, but with the interests of the consumer.

- SMEs should increase cooperation, to have more say and develop a more holistic, rather than supplier-retailer, relationship with the rest of the industry. Larger groupings will also have a greater impact on investors.

Other recommendations include measures to draw-up a code of ethics, initiatives in corporate social responsibility, and of course the reduction of environmental impact through REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals).

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: 'The European textile industry is well advanced in making the structural changes and innovations required to adapt to the new dynamics brought by globalisation. Although this process is not yet completed, we are on the right track. I therefore welcome the recommendations of the High Level Group.'

The expert group included European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik, trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, in addition to captains of the textile and distribution industries, trade unions, and national and European Ministers.

For further information, and to read the report, please go:
here

And go to the European technology platform for the future of textiles and clothing:
here

Go to the LEAPFROG website at http://www.leapfrog-eu.org/

Go to the REACH website:
here

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