A campaign to boost the European linen industry is being backed by more than EUR3.3m (US$4.6m) in funding from the European Union (EU), the French government and linen industry body CELC Masters of Linen.

The three-year promotion, under the 'Be Linen' strapline, will focus on promoting the uptake of linen fabrics in the fashion industry by emphasising the fibre's eco-friendly credentials.

More than two-thirds of the world's linen production comes from an area extending from southern Normandy to Belgium and The Netherlands, campaigners say, which means there's no there's no need to import it. They also point out it needs neither irrigation nor fertilizer for growth, unlike other natural fibres which consume a huge amount of water.

Key beneficiaries will be the linen markets of France, Italy and Belgium. The programme started in September 2010 and will complete in August 2013.