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Antonio Tajani Promotes Product Origin Labeling

The European Commission’s vice president for industry and entrepreneurship was in Paris on Wednesday to visit Dior’s ateliers.

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MADE IN EUROPE: In Paris to visit Dior’s ateliers, European Commission vice president for industry and entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani was keen to promote one of his latest priorities — the implementation of an obligatory label of origin of all non-food products sold in Europe.

Tajani hopes the regulation, which was put before the European Parliament some two months ago, will go through before European elections next year and be implemented starting in 2015.

“We need to support European quality. It’s a business card internationally,” Tajani told journalists at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Dior’s Avenue Montaigne headquarters on Wednesday.

“If we want to come out of the crisis, we have to move forward in terms of quality; we cannot compete internationally in quantity terms,” he said.

Ensuring products’ traceability within the European Union is also about protecting consumers’ health and helping them to make choices about the products they buy and, ultimately, ensuring the future relevance of industry in Europe, he said.

“Luxury and fashion are key sectors,” Tajani added. “It is wrong to think that luxury is just for the rich. It is rich people who perhaps buy the products, but their purchases guarantee jobs […] and for each manufacturing job, there are two jobs in services, salespeople in stores or bodyguards to transport that necklace to the airport, for example. With industry, we can create wealth.”

Tajani’s proposals would allow European companies the choice between putting “Made in France,” on products, for example, or “Made in the European Union.”

The regulation would apply to the last “substantial” change to an item in the manufacturing process.

Products from outside the European Union would also have to have their origin clearly labeled, and distributors, importers and retailers would also be liable for the origin of their products.

The U.S. and China already apply similar rules on product labeling regarding country of origin.

“It is about having a level playing field,” said Tajani.

“LVMH supports the move,” said a spokeswoman for the luxury-goods firm.