The European textile and fashion industry is looking to collaborate with other sectors to help identify common challenges and discuss new areas of cooperation to boost EU manufacturing.

Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, explored 'Best in Partnerships' at its 20th anniversary conference last week, where the group's president, Serge Piolat, called on the European Commission to strengthen internationalisation of  SMEs, assure fair conditions for European companies through stricter market surveillance, provide better access for SMEs to EU research funds, and boost innovation investments at regional level through the RegioTex initiative. 

Earlier this year more than 100 participants from 19 EU countries attended the RegioTex launch in Brussels. The initiative aims to strengthen regional textile innovation capacities and boost collaboration and learning.

Europe RegioTex initiative to boost textile innovation

During the Euratex conference, Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said the Commission is working to meet the challenges of innovation, international competition and skills shortage in the textile and fashion industry. She also said industry engagement is key to the development of new policies and programmes.

Other speakers also focused on partnerships, suggesting that different sectors need to work together to build a circular economy in Europe, with "the waste of one industry becoming the raw material for the other." Likewise, trading internationally is still a challenge for small companies, so cooperation with large, more experienced partners may facilitate their exports. 

It was also announced that textiles and clothing will be included in the EC's Blue Print Strategy to help firms find skilled workers. Nearly 600,000 job openings are anticipated in the textile and fashion sector in the EU-28 up to 2025, yet despite the high unemployment rate in Europe, it is proving difficult to attract skilled employees to fill these vacancies.