In 2010 the Italian Parliament issued the Reguzzoni-Versace law (named after politician Marco Reguzzoni and designer Santo Versace, brother of the well-known late Gianni Versace), establishing a system of compulsory labelling in the textile, leather and footwear sectors to ensure that the origin of a product could be traced by the consumer.

Nonetheless, this law has already run into problems of incompatibility with the European regulations.

In fact, the law provided for the possibility of adopting the wording “Made in Italy” only when at least two stages of manufacture were performed in Italy, and required providing sufficient information on the remaining stages in order to allow the consumer to trace their origin.

The European Union has viewed such requirements as protectionist for Italy and actually overstepping the EU regulations, which only requires that the last substantial process be performed in the country indicated in the Made In label. In view of such criticisms, the law did not enter into force as expected on 1 October 2010 and instead a conference was held at the end of 2010 to find – through implementation decrees – a way to render the law operative in accordance with the community regulations.

Nevertheless the implementation decrees were rejected by the EU on 17 January last leading to an infraction procedure for Italy. Italy has now three months to revise the text of the decrees. Nonetheless, amendments may not be sufficient to obtain consent from Brussels, especially considering the importance of some controversial points, such as the contested violation of article 34 of the Treaty which prohibits national measures providing restrictions to trade in the EU.

Despite the present stand-by of the Reguzzoni-Versace law, this has served as a stimulus in the EU, which is concerned with the problem and is trying to find an answer by means of a Regulation which approved on 21 October 2010 by the European Parliament and is now waiting to pass to negotiation amongst the EU Commission, Parliament and Council for the definitive version. If implemented, such Regulation would impose a new labelling system for some goods categories coming from countries outside the EU (at present in the clothing, textile, footwear, ceramic, jewellery, nuts and bolts and taps and fittings sectors) and the compulsory indication of origin for the same. The definitive go-ahead is expected by May 2011.

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