The European Parliament yesterday (17 January) urged the European Commission to stick to its guns in proposing that origin labelling for clothing and shoes made outside the European Union (EU) be made mandatory.

The call came after the EU executive threatened to withdraw a legislative proposal on the issue.

The Commission is struggling to find majority support for the idea on the EU Council of Ministers. If the proposal is in the end withdrawn, clothing and footwear manufacturers would not be obliged to disclose the origin of their producers when selling in the European market.

MEPs also pointed out in a resolution this would weaken the EU compared with competitors such as the US, China and Japan, which do have mandatory ‘made in' labels.

The chair of the parliament's international trade committee, Portuguese social democrat Vital Moreira, said in a debate the legislation was designed to "prevent the use of false or misleading labels, so as to put us on an equal footing with our trade partners".

Other MEPs accused multinationals in some big EU countries of lobbying against the legislation which would ban "misleading or no claims of origin to cover up environmental and social dumping," said a parliament memorandum.

The motion asked the European Commission to make the proposal more politically palatable, but preserve its core requirement.