Manufacturers, retailers and importers selling apparel, footwear and accessories within the European Union (EU) will have to ensure product labels include a country of origin, or say they were made in the EU, under new consumer legislation proposed yesterday (13 February).

The European Commission tabled two new regulations on consumer product safety and the market surveillance of products. In a note, it said its goal was "to make all type of products easier to track through the supply chain and eliminate dishonest competition".

Where an accessory is too small for a label, origin information will be provided on packaging or a product leaflet. Origin data would "supplement the basic traceability requirements concerning the name and address of the manufacturer," said the Commission.

The proposals would also clarify the responsibilities under EU law of product regulators, manufacturers, importers and distributors regarding consumer safety. And, if approved by the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, they would streamline procedures for notifying regulators about dangerous products, such as clothes with hazardous dyes or potentially choking draw-strings.

Welcoming the proposal, EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said: "Better coordination of product safety checks, especially at the EU external borders, will eliminate unfair competition from dishonest or criminal rogue operators".