Biénkowska welcomed Presidents from CEC (European Confederation of Footwear Industry), COTANCE (European Confederation of the Leather Industry), ECCIA (European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance), EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation) and Fur Europe, for the first time in Brussels.

Together they assessed the initiatives that have been developed to support these industries since the Action Plan was launched in February 2013 and discussions were held to identify future joint actions.

Commissioner Biénkowska demonstrated a clear interest on the activities and success stories since the launch of the project and emphasized the full Commission’s support to the participants. “As a strategic sector, you represent what Europe does best: quality and creativity with high value. Many small companies are leaders in their niche markets in Europe and globally”, she stated.

The president of CEC, Cleto Sagripanti, expressed his satisfaction with the Commission’s decision to include the confederation’s proposals for urgent action in the updated Action Plan. He stressed that “It is essential that not only the Commission but also national administrations support the reshoring of footwear manufacturing to Europe. We need to bring back production.”

Sagripanti also highlighted the daily research that footwear companies accomplish in order to create innovative products and remain competitive and urged the Commission to support them with adequate funding schemes that effectively reached the SMEs and called for a joint action to attract new generations with the necessary skills to the industry.

Other subjects discussed included the need to continue fighting counterfeiting, the opening of strategic third markets and the establishment of a well-functioning Digital Single Market to boost secure and easy cross border online sales.

Concrete initiatives are to be presented by the Commission in the coming months.