The European textiles and clothing sector needs urgent support, if it wants to remain a strategic pillar of the European economy. EURATEX President Alberto Paccanelli held a constructive dialogue with Commissioner Breton to develop quick and effective solutions.
According to a recent survey among European textile and clothing companies, short term prospects for the industry are dramatic: 60% of companies expect sales to drop by half (and 30% expects a reduction of even 80%). 70% of companies has serious financial constraints and 80% of the sample has (temporarily) reduced workforce, using temporary unemployment schemes where available. Production companies report problems in their supply chains, whereas retailers face the problem of a “lost Summer season”. 1 out of 4 companies is considering to close down.
These dramatic figures have been presented by EURATEX President Alberto Paccanelli in a videoconference with Commissioner Breton and other key actors of the industry.
Despite this unprecedented situation, the European textile and clothing industry responded immediately to the situation provoked by COVID-19. Over 500 companies reconverted part of their sites or invested in new machineries, to produce protective masks and garments. They are showing great sense of solidarity and want to overcome the crisis.
Alberto Paccanelli commented on the meeting: “We are glad that Commissioner Breton recognises the strategic importance of the textiles industry. Without textile materials, no cars, machines or buildings can be built, nor can craftsmen, doctors or security forces do their work in full.”
To safeguard the industry, short term measures are needed, such as accessing liquidity, re-opening shops as quickly as feasible (to create demand), guaranteeing a smooth functioning of the internal market and avoiding any disruption in export markets. The Commission should also refrain from adding any regulatory burden in these difficult times.
In the longer run, a strategic plan needs to support the relaunch of our industry and enhance the global competitiveness. Critical supply chains should be brought back to Europe, and we need to ensure a level playing field on the global market and, especially, on imported goods. Innovation, digitalisation and green economy remain a target for the industry, but they need to be reviewed in light of a relaunch programme for the sector.
“European companies showed great sense of solidarity during the crisis by providing protective garments and masks for free to public authorities” said Alberto Paccanelli. “I asked the Commissioner to come up with some measures, in the short and longer term, to relaunch the economy and maintain this close cooperation with representatives of the industry”.