The European Union's (EU) High Level Group on Textiles and Clothing has laid down in detail how it wants the EU textile and clothing manufacturing industry to move upmarket to survive.

In a second and more specific paper than its initial suggestions, it calls on the sector "to become leaner and more cooperative with higher productivity" and dedicate more turnover to exports.

EU industry commissioner Günter Verheugen has welcomed the report: "The European textile industry is well advanced in making the structural changes and innovations required to adapt to the new dynamics brought by globalisation."

A key issue identified by the group is research. For instance, it has called on national industry federations to promote standardisation in new manufacturing techniques, especially regarding the integration of IT in clothing.

Another suggested priority is encouraging small- and medium-sized businesses in the sector to band together. "These will have the essential critical mass and credible business plans to convince credit institutions," said the group.

Such cooperation could also cross over into retail. The group suggests that the EU's Fashion Forum, established in spring, should work with retailers to promote success stories and innovation in the European clothing and textile manufacturing sector, creating positive marketing spin for its products.

By Keith Nuthall.