European textiles and clothing companies proved to be essential to managing COVID-19 pandemic. A great number converted to or increased the production of PPE. This strategic role though goes beyond the past events, as, without textile materials, we cannot build cars, clothes, machines or buildings.
The last months highlighted then the necessity for the whole sector and its value chain to undergo a renewal process, and enter the future more competitive and greener. The textile industry is ready for this challenge and developed a recovery strategy.
EURATEX’s plan requires considerable resources and a coherent set of measures, both on short term and on a structural basis. The European Commission and Member States already put in place some quick recovery moves: for example, the re-opening of shops and companies and the guarantee of well-functioning markets and supply chains.
In order to define the long-term vision, Europe should:
- endorse the strategic importance of the European T&A sector
- promote the development of an integrated ecosystem with the EU and its neighboring countries
- invest on innovation and skills
- turn circularity into a source of competitiveness
The deployment of these durable measures must be now.
To make the strategy tangible and concrete, EURATEX developed also five flagship initiatives:
- The impact of this type of crisis can be avoided by organising guaranteed supplies and building resilient value chains in Europe for critical PPE and other textile products.
- The textile and clothing workforce is growing older, as 35% of it is over 50 years old. SMEs should upskill their existing workforce to meet a rapidly transforming industry and attract well-qualified young workers and professionals.
- We should invest in innovative and sustainable textiles through dedicated Public Private Partnership (PPP) at EU level. These PPP will pool and accelerate research, innovation, pilot testing and demonstration in critical areas, like digital manufacturing and supply chains.
- EURATEX wants to establish 5 recycling hubs in Europe near textile and apparel districts and therefore make raw materials by collecting, sorting, processing and recycling post-production and post-consumption textile wastes.
- Goods blocked by national authorities at the borders should not happen in the future. It is fundamental to ensure free and fair trade for our companies. A first step should be to promote the Pan Euro Med as an integrated ecosystem, and exploit market opportunities resulting from other EU FTAs.