Two Italian members of the European Parliament are proposing to include ophthalmic and contact lenses as well as eyewear as manufactured goods compelled to bear labels stating their country of origin, if they're produced outside the European Union. The EuroMPs, Francesco Enrico Speroni and Matteo Salvini are both members of the Northern League, an Italian party that had already proposed including mandatory origin-labeling for eyewear in Italian legislation.
The committee on international trade of the European Parliament is scheduled meet on Sept. 29 to vote on a bill imposing the introduction of mandatory origin labeling in the European Union for some products manufactured elsewhere. The committee will also examine amendments, including those proposed by Speroni and Salvini, to a document put forward by the rapporteur, Cristiana Muscardini.
The two EuroMPs also want to include medical equipment, toys and leisure and sports goods in the list of products covered by mandatory origin-labeling. The original draft already covers sectors such as footwear, textile, jewelry and furniture, in response to demands by national industry association representing these sectors. National associations of eyewear manufacturers including the Italian one, Anfao, have been reluctant to associate themselves with this request, while many small workshops in the Cadore district have been supporting the measure.
The text presented by Muscardini aims in effect to resurrect proposals made by the European Commission in 2005 and rejected by the European Council due to the opposition of many northern European governments. The Council represents the heads of state or government of member states along with the president of the Council and the president of the European Commission. Since Dec. 1, 2009, the balance of power has shifted in the EU with the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon which increased the powers of the European Parliament, putting it on a par with the Council.
If the bill is effectively cleared by Parliament, the Council will have to reach a compromise with it to avoid an institutional clash. Informal talks between the Parliament and Council to seek a compromise could start after the committee's vote.
In the meantime, efforts to introduce compulsory origin-labeling and traceability for textile and leather goods, footwear and furniture in Italy from Oct. 1, 2010 are hamstrung. The legislation was passed in March by the Italian Parliament, which asked the government to obtain clearance from the European Commission. But it is unlikely that Italy will obtain this authorisation before Oct. 1 and the government is holding talks with its coalition members to decide what strategy to adopt regarding the law.
Santo Versace, one of the members of the Italian Parliament who promoted the law, has been calling for the postponement its implementation until next year to gain time to discuss with the European Commission. In May, two Northern League senators, Gianvittore Vaccari and Mario Pittoni, had proposed enlarging the Italian law on mandatory origin labeling to eyewear, but the majority of the Senate voted against.