Textiles: Commission takes seven actions to help EU textiles industry ahead of 1 January 2005

Building on the work carried out by the High Level Group for textiles and clothing, the European Commission proposes seven actions to enhance the competitiveness of the European textiles industry ahead of the disappearance of the remaining WTO textiles quotas on 1 January 2005.

EU Enterprise Commissioner Olli Rehn said: “The EU textiles and clothing industry is a sector which has faced permanent competitiveness, restructuring and modernisation challenges over the last fifty years. Now it is going through profound structural changes. At EU, national and regional levels, we need to provide adequate conditions to help the sector strengthen its competitiveness and remain a key industry in the EU.”

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy added, “With anticipation and close co-operation with the European industry we can ensure that there is a smooth transition to a quota-free trade in textiles on 1 January 2005. And we will not leave developing countries, in particular the poorest and more vulnerable, out in the cold. We will re-focus our trade preferences so that they can continue to benefit from an open and fair access to the EU.”

The seven actions are the Commission responses to the requests and issues raised by the High Level Group. In brief:

* Boosting research and innovation: to draw up and implement a strategic research agenda, the Commission considers setting up a European Technology Platform. Fostering advanced technology and high value added textiles and clothing under the EU’s R&D Programmes.

* Ensuring lifelong education and vocational training: encourage the use of the Leonardo da Vinci programme and the European Social Fund to provide for adaptation to industrial changes and innovative actions in the area of employment.

* Structural funds to cover unforeseen crises: to help the textiles industry restructure, modernise, cover the consequences of trade opening and to mitigate the socio-economic impact on regions with high concentration of textiles industry, the Commission has proposed a reserve fund within the structural funds (1% of the Structural Fund annual contribution for the “Convergence” objective and 3% of the “Regional competitiveness and employment” objective).

* Strengthening fight against counterfeiting and piracy: creation of a user-friendly European website on intellectual property rights and disseminate information through seminars and networking, in particular for SMEs.

* Opening markets: the Commission proposes to improve European industry access to third countries and eliminate non-tariff barriers within the on-going WTO negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda.

A task force bringing together the Commission and industry is set up to identify and prioritise obstacles to be tackled with third countries. The Commission also proposes to enhance access of developing countries to the EU market, focusing on the poorest and more vulnerable.

* Rapidly complete the Euro-Mediterranean zone: encourage conclusion of agreements between all Euromed partners including the same rules of origin so that cumulation of origin can take place as soon as the agreements have been initialled.

* Strengthen co-operation with China: the Commission will use of recently established EU-China textiles dialogue and the setting up of a monitoring of Chinese imports to ensure a smooth transition to a quota-free system as from 1 January 2005.

Background

To prepare for the challenges faced by the textiles industry and in particular the elimination of import quotas on 1 January 2005, the Commission adopted a “Communication on the future of the textiles and clothing sector in the enlarged European Union on 29 October 2003”. Early 2004 and to follow up on the suggestions contained in the Communication, the Commission set up a High-Level Group comprising all stakeholders of the textiles and clothing industry with a mandate to formulate recommendations on initiatives to improve conditions for the competitiveness of the European textile and clothing industry. The group produced its report - “The Challenge of 2005 – European textiles and clothing in a quota free environment” on 30 June 2004.

The full text of the present Communication is available on:

//europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/textile/index.htm

//trade-info.cec.eu.int/textiles/index.cfm
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