The European footwear industry is made up of diverse products and industrial processes. The European Commission works to promote the innovation and competitiveness of firms in the field and to combat counterfeiting, while protecting consumer health and the environment.
The footwear sector is a diverse industry covering a wide variety of materials and products from different types of men's, women's, and children's footwear, to more specialised products like snowboard boots and protective footwear. In 2012, the footwear sector generated EUR 24 billion in turnover and EUR 6.2 billion in added value, directly employing more than a quarter of a million people.
The European Union has directed EU countries to align laws relating to the labelling of materials in footwear, protecting consumer interests, and reducing the risk of fraud for consumers and industry. EU legislation on chemicals and personal protective equipment may also affect footwear.
Global markets bring challenges to the European footwear industry such as increased competition and threats to intellectual property rights. The Commission works on initiatives to support the fashion and high-end industries of which footwear is a part.
In response to the challenges faced by the European footwear industry, the Commission ordered an in-depth assessment of the situation and prospects for future development. The study includes reports on restructuring, research and innovation, education and training, as well as an analysis of the competitive position of the sector and policy recommendations.
There are a number of European standards relating to footwear such as test methods, terminology, minimum performance requirements for individual components of footwear and entire shoes, and environmental aspects.