In Italy, last Thursday 28 May 2020, the Council of Ministers approved the long-awaited Decree protecting the term “leather”. The new law imposes a ban on the deceptive use of the term “leather” (“pelle” e “cuoio” in Italian language) when applied to identify materials not deriving from animals. Deterring sanctions will be imposed on infringements ascertained on the Italian market.

COTANCE hails this important regulatory achievement in one of the top priorities of Europe’s leather industry: “I wholeheartedly welcome this development that will put an end to the rogue usurpation of our sector’s terminology by materials hiding their actual composition behind the good name and reputation of leather!” says COTANCE President, Andreas Kindermann (Austria). “I only regret that the European Union does not grant to leather this protection across all member States, while it does it for the textile sector and milk products.” he adds.

Indeed, contrary to the textile sector where Regulation (EU) 1007/2011 on textile names and labelling ensures the correct designation of textile materials, EU consumers are exposed to a myriad of deceptive commercial practices in their purchases of articles sold as leather. COTANCE estimates the loss of business to European tanners due to these practices in €1,7 billion per year or about 20% of the sector’s yearly turnover.

Leather authenticity rules exist in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, and on industry standards in Germany (RAL) and within CEN and ISO, as well as in other markets such as the USA and Brazil for example. Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, Secretary General of COTANCE moans “The fragmentation of the World’s largest consumer market for leather and leather articles deprives citizen from an effective protection against deceptive practices”.

The regulatory failure at EU level is now being responded with legislative initiatives at national level with Italy being the first country to deliver. Portugal and Hungary are closely following. “We would expect that the European Commission recognises the need to take action at EU level for saving on the multiplication of efforts at national level that can be witnessed today.” comments COTANCE President Kindermann.

COTANCE calls on Enterprise and Internal Market Commissioner Le Breton to take up this long-due regulatory development, as part of the industry support measures following the COVID-19 lockdown.