BRUSSELS BOUND: Italy presides over the European Council through December, and the Italian fashion and textile sector is not about to ring in 2015 without pushing a few buttons.

Sistema Moda Italia (SMI) president Claudio Marenzi will be in Brussels Wednesday with Mario Peserico, president of Indicam, an Italian consortium of approximately 180 companies, trade associations, law and intellectual property firms, security consultants and others fighting against the proliferation of counterfeit merchandise.

At the European Apparel and Textile Organization (Euratex’s) Belgian headquarters, the two Italian representatives will meet the presidents of French trade associations Union des Fabricants (UNIFAB) and Union des Industries Textiles (UIT), and the group will sign a “Memorandum of Understanding” urging the EU to crack down on counterfeit apparel. The Italian and French fashion and textile sectors – which together employ an estimated 500,000 people – aim to push for tougher pan-European legislation and greater intelligence sharing.

“Even in Italy, the demand for such products is too high,” said a statement from SMI. “Especially among young people, the violation of intellectual property rights isn’t perceived as a crime and as harmful, but as a means to buy something at an accessible price that one otherwise couldn’t afford.” The statement cited damage to companies, states, civil society and consumer health and safety among chief concerns tied to the circulation of counterfeit goods.

“Almost 70 percent of goods confiscated by [Italy’s] Customs Agency and Financial Guard in the five year period from 2008 to 2012 was composed of counterfeit apparel, accessories and shoes,” the statement continued, also referring to research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which indicated that eight percent of world trade is in counterfeit.

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