The EU is a major actor of the global leather market. Its leather 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, while protecting consumer health and the environment.
The leather industry covers diverse products and industrial processes. Leather tanning covers the treatment of raw materials, i.e. the conversion of raw hide or skin into leather and finishing it so that it can be used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products. The footwear, garment, furniture, automotive and leather goods industries are the most important outlets for EU tanners' production.
Although there is no specific EU legislation for the leather industry, this sector is affected by different measures concerning the environment, the use of chemicals, the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances as well as the use of animal by-products.
European standards relating to leather are developed through the technical body CEN TC 289 of the European Committee for Standardization. There are currently 143 standards with relevance to leather products. These standards cover a number of fields. One standard provides, for example, the guidelines for the test methods and recommended values for upholstery leather for furniture and another standard specifies a method using microscopy to identify leather and distinguish it from other materials.
This study analyses a range of labelling harmonization possibilities for leather such as social labelling, environmental labelling, animal species and leather authenticity. It gives an overview of the potential impact of different policies and recommends further assessment in the area of leather authenticity. It also enables an evaluation of whether a further cost-benefit analysis of the various potential labels is necessary.