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European Parliament Votes on Labeling Issue

Debates over the proposed “Made in” legislation had fallen mostly along northern and southern European lines.

MILAN — The European Union is set to tighten its labeling laws following the overwhelming victory in the European Parliament of a new Consumer Product Safety Regulation that was put to a vote Tuesday: 485 members of Parliament supported it, while only 130 were against it.

Article 7 of the regulation mandates origin labels on consumer goods sold in the EU, whether these are placed directly on products or on accompanying documents, if the size or nature of products prevents direct labeling.

Debates over the proposed “Made in” legislation had fallen mostly along northern and southern European lines, with countries such as Denmark and Germany largely opposed and countries such as Spain and Italy, which still have sizable manufacturing sectors, heavily in favor.

In a phone interview following the vote, Italian MP Cristiana Muscardini, vice president of the International Trade (INTA) Commission and a staunch “Made in” campaigner, partially credited the new regulation’s success to a strong show of support from northern European MPs who defied the positions long held by their respective national governments and focused on consumers’ rights to know exactly what they are buying.

“MPs have their fingers on the pulse of the situation, whereas governments are sometimes obscured by [national] economic and financial interests” and pressure from multinationals, she said.

Muscardini also praised the many Italian professional organizations — notably in fashion, textiles, footwear, jewelry and ceramics — that had vocally supported the new regulation, even if categories such as ceramics are not yet covered by it. Hours before the vote, Sistema Moda Italia released a statement saying that: “Currently the EU is the only part of the world where there are no specific rules that impose the obligation to place a label indicating origin on [imported] products…These delays in creating European-wide legislation need to be addressed, to put consumers in the condition of knowing the fundamental aspects of products they buy and to highlight the excellence of European manufacturing.”

Asked about the next step for the regulation, Muscardini said: “I expect the Italian presidency of the European Council [in charge from July to December] to bring this home.”