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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Textiles, fashion and creative industries

Fashion and creative industries such as the textiles and clothing, footwear, and leather sectors, operate at the crossroads between arts, business, and technology. They are in a strategic position to link creativity to innovation at a time when culture-based creativity is an essential feature of business innovation in the new economy. Their potential to contribute to the re-industrialisation of Europe is often overlooked.

What the European Commission is doing

The Commission works to encourage innovation in the European fashion and creative industries. This is very important to the competitiveness of the industry as it cannot compete with emerging economies on price.

Counterfeiting is also an issue as far as competitiveness is concerned. The Commission works to fight fake goods and provide information on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The Commission also works to give the industry better access to markets worldwide by dismantling tariffs and reducing non-tariff barriers with key trading partners.

EU Strategy for sustainable and circular textiles

In the EU, the textiles and clothing sector is economically significant and can play a prominent role in the circular economy. It comprises more than 160.000 companies and employs 1.5 million people, generating a turnover of €162 billion in 2019. The consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, now accounts on average for the fourth-highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and the third-highest for water and land use from a global life cycle perspective. It is estimated that less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles.

In light of the complexity of the textile value chain and the need to ensure the green and digital transitions of the ecosystem, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive EU strategy for textiles on 30 March 2022. The strategy aims to enhance sustainability and circularity and strengthen industrial competitiveness and innovation.

Cultural and creative industries

Cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are at the heart of the creative economy: knowledge-intensive, based on individual creativity and talent, they generate huge economic wealth and preserve European identity, culture and values.

CCIs include a number of subsectors, such as architecture, archives and libraries, artistic crafts, cultural heritage, design, fashion, film, high, end, music, performing and virtual arts, publishing, radio, television and video-games.

The study: Boosting the competitiveness of cultural and creative industries for jobs and growth shows that CCIs employ more than 12 million people in the EU, which is 7.5% of all persons employed in the total economy. They are an important contributor to the economy with 5.3% of the total EU GVA and further 4% of nominal EU GDP generated by the high-end industries.

The new European agenda for culture recognised the role of cultural and creative sectors in 'generating innovative solutions that positively impact other sectors and help boost our economy's competitiveness'. In this context, the Commission will organise a regular dialogue with cultural and creative sectors to identify policy needs and underpin a comprehensive policy framework at EU level.
The preliminary phase started, building a common understanding of

  • the EU's creative economy challenges and opportunities (e.g. industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, circular economy/sustainability, skills)
  • the framework conditions for the competitiveness of the European CCIs in global value chains
  • the conditions for cross-sectoral cooperation and the role of CCIs as innovation triggers in other industrial sectors (cross-innovation)

So far, three meetings took place with the participation of experts and stakeholders representing the creative sectors. The first meeting focused on creativity and its relation to industrial value chains, innovation and business environments. The second discussed skills development for creative professionals, the way they interact with the industry and markets, and the role of education providers and business support organisation. The third meeting covered intellectual property's importance and challenges as well as the role of creativity and design in the transition towards a more sustainable economy and society.
The impulse paper on cultural and creative sectors' role in innovating European industry, prepared by KEA European Affairs, provides the background for the dialogue with stakeholders from cultural and creative sectors.

Fashion and high-end industries

The fashion and high-end industries are a significant part of the creative economy and have the potential to contribute to the growth of manufacturing in Europe. These industries face a number of challenges that the Commission works to address. They include the growing number of counterfeit goods, the protection of intellectual property rights, and the difficulties small businesses face when looking for finance.

Fashion and high-end industries

Textile and clothing industries

Textiles and clothing is a diverse sector that plays an important role in the European manufacturing industry. The Commission legislates on fibre names and labelling to offer consumers protection. It is also engaged in dialogues with non-EU countries on policy and regulatory issues that affect the textiles and clothing industry.

The textile and clothing industry in the EU

The footwear industry

The European footwear industry is made up of diverse products and industrial processes. The Commission works to promote the innovation and competitiveness of firms and to combat counterfeiting, while protecting consumer health and the environment. It also provides legislation that manufacturers must follow.

The European footwear industry

The leather industry

The EU is a major actor of the global leather market. Its leather industry is made up of diverse products and industrial processes. The Commission works to promote the innovation and competitiveness of firms in the field, while protecting consumer health and the environment.

The leather industry