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Sustainable development

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EU Meetings for the Leather Industry
The EU Leather and Tanning Industry and Sustainable Development

On the 27th May 2004 a Conference on Sustainability and the Leather sector took place at the premises of the European Commission.
It was organized by DG ENTR, the European Leather Association (COTANCE) and the Trade Union (ETUF-TCL) and it was attended by numerous members of the European Institutions, leather sector and annexed industries representatives (leather goods, textiles, chemicals).

 

   


Commissioner Liikanen took part in the opening session, informing the presents about the Commission Communication on Fostering Structural Changes at EU level, proclaiming a new friendly regulatory environment based on open consultations and specific impact assessments. He also stated the need for mobilizing all EU policies at stake and contributing to a more certain and predictable marketplace, setting up sectoral responses to challenges.

European Competitiveness setting has changed much in the past 20 years, and moreover, EU environmental legislation has place a heavy burden to be carried by our industries, including the leather sector, a sector that bases its importance not only on economical grounds but also, and mainly, in its role of transforming waste into valuable animal by-products (a very ecological goal).  These are hard times for tanning hides and skins, one of the oldest professions in the world. Our tanneries’ fears of de-industrialization and de-localization eastwards are ever growing.

An economic and social dumping is taking place without the Institutions and Governments doing much about. Environmental legislation in the EU is going faster of what the market can absorb, the production has decided to move abroad. European industry calls for a level playing field through reciprocity and harmonization of duties (especially on EU exports of raw materials)

The leather sector also demands more transparent and clear legislation and extensive recognition of the performance of the sector through a labelling system (“mark of origin”) that should be fractioned to identify the different components of the finished leather products.
Finally, they claim the need to secure access to raw materials and the need for further investment in competitive advantages of the sector; it should taken care of, given its relevance at an economic and social level. The challenges are there, tanneries have already played their part and they wait for the institutions to play theirs.