Protective textiles are one of six key growth sectors receiving special attention through European Union (EU) and national government reforms and initiatives.

They are part of a European Commission Lead Market Initiative, which has support from the EU Council of Ministers, which wants "urgent and coordinated action through ambitious action plans".

Protective textiles have been identified by Brussels - with eHealth, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energies - as having immense growth potential.

In a communiqué, the council said: "These markets are highly innovative, respond to customers' needs in broad market segments, have a strong technological and industrial base in Europe and depend heavily on the creation of favourable [legal and administrative] conditions."

Under the scheme, the Commission plans to review relevant legislation for the protective clothing sector.

It will also help boost "the sharing of best practices" between public procurement authorities buying protective clothing and ask European standardisation bodies to develop new standards.

By Keith Nuthall.