The Council of COTANCE including representatives from Italy, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Romania meet on October 11 in Bologna during the Lineapelle fair.

Discussions focused on the current market situation and raw material prices that are remaining at historic high levels and squeeze European tanners progressively into what COTANCE say is a non-sustainable business situation.

Many countries globally are adopting more protectionist measures reducing the supply of raw materials in an “open market” and competitors operating behind such “protective walls” increasingly consume the resources remaining.

COTANCE highlight Argentina, Brazil, Andean countries, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Morocco, Nigeria and now Turkey which are now not allowing European tanners to source freely raw materials in their domestic market while they ‘raid’ barrier-free markets such as Europe.

European tanners say they are not seeing their national or pan-European trade authorities bringing any assistance in this area. COTANCE state that there are some national authorities within EU Member States that do not support the collection of statistical evidence (a monitoring exercise) that would allow an opportunity to see whether there is a need for protectionist action that would be legally applicable. This is not an ideal situation for many tanners with European elections and new Commission coming up in 2014 say COTANCE.

They say in their latest press release that, “Europe needs to make up its mind whether it wants to keep the world’s top of the class leather industry at home generating wealth and employment or whether it will surrender without resistance to unfair trade barriers and rogue business practices.”

Other important topics on the agenda at the meeting were the development of Environmental Footprint of leather and the EU Pilot for developing official product category rules for leather, EU wide labelling of leather, safety of products and origin marking. They also discussed EU rules on Cr VI restrictions and the labelling of products treated with biocide products.