New rules approved by the European Parliament yesterday (25 February) to make it easier to confiscate counterfeit goods across the European Union (EU) have been welcomed by textile, apparel and sporting goods groups.

The draft law, already informally agreed with national governments, is part of a wider review of EU trademark legislation.

Until now, European customs can check counterfeit goods transiting through the EU, but can only stop them if there is a risk of these goods entering the single market.

In practice this means that customs are powerless against counterfeit goods on route to a third country, and must let them go, at the risk of these goods being illegally diverted back into the EU.

The new provisions will allow customs to stop trademark counterfeit goods even if destined to a country outside the EU.

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) are among business groups who say the vote signals that the European Parliament "is serious about stopping trademark counterfeits to protect consumers everywhere."

They are now calling on the European Council to follow suit and formally approve the agreement in the coming weeks.

Member states will then have 30 months to transpose the directive into their national laws. Ireland will take part in these arrangements, while the UK and Denmark will not.