|Author (Person)||Chapman, Peter|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.3, No.41, 13.11.97, p28|
|Content Type||Journal | Series | Blog|
EU RULES which will forbid non-metric measurements being shown alongside metric ones on the labels of goods ranging from shoes to perfume to be sold in the Union from the year 2000 are coming under attack from a coalition of Europe-based companies.
The coalition, which includes the European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA) and the Federation of European Direct Marketing (FEDMA), claims that the rules would be a barrier to trade between the EU and US since companies would be forced to print separate labels for goods sold inside and outside the Union market.
COLIPA spokesman Rory Macmillan said industry was preparing to launch a six-month lobbying campaign to try to force the European Commission, MEPs and member states to put back the directive's year-2000 deadline for all-metric labels.
"We strongly support efforts by European industry to push the EU to find a solution to this issue. We believe very strongly that the rule will be a barrier to trade," he said.
Macmillan said the costs for European firms of re-labelling goods for export to specific markets such as the US would be enormous. This would have to be done because the inclusion of extra US imperial measurements to please American customers would no longer be allowed on labels used for EU markets.
FEDMA director-general Alastair Tempest called on the Commission to propose a further ten-year extension to the transition period for labels to go entirely metric which was granted when a 1979 EU directive was adopted.
This would protect Union industry while the US continued its efforts to switch from the American imperial measurements it uses for most consumer goods. Tempest said the EU-industry coalition would also continue to press its US counterparts to urge Washington to speed up moves towards the metric system.
He warned that unless the transition period was extended, cash-strapped EU small and medium-sized companies would face the brunt of the regulations and some might even decide to stop selling goods to the US.
"Obviously, when selling to the US, they would have to indicate the measurement that US customers are using. This would create all sorts of logistical problems. They would need two lots of stock," he said, adding that companies would have to stop production lines and change labels for the same goods depending on their destination, and update their inventory and distribution systems to adhere to the new rules.
Tempest claimed that the costly rules would not only affect labels. Mail order companies which import products directly from the US would have to ask suppliers to make costly changes to their manuals. This could lead to FEDMA members losing the traditional competitive advantage that mail-order goods enjoy over shop-based products.
"One of our members imports exercise machines from America. The instruction manuals talk about the weight of exercisers in terms of pounds and stones. He says that if he has to ask his supplier to change these manuals, it will put up the cost. His goods will then be less competitive compared to those in the shops," he explained.
Tempest added that the fledgling electronic commerce market would also be a casualty of the metric rules, if EU companies - particularly those selling speciality European food and clothes via the Internet - had to cope with two sets of labels on goods.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets|