Photo: AP/Joerg Sarbach
German goods may no longer be able to lay claim to being “Made in Germany”, if the EU has its way.According to a proposal tabled by the EU Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, companies will only be allowed to attach the label to products where at least 45 per cent of the content and work involved comes from Germany, Spiegel Online reported.
Until now, EU rules defined the country of origin as the place where “the last substantial, economically justified processing” took place, which meant that even products that were produced abroad, and only given finishing touches in Germany could be considered German.
The announcement sent waves of panic through the German industrial community. Many worried about how the proposal, if passed, would affect the country’s automobile and machinery industries. Companies use the label as proof of their superior quality, which helps boost exports, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), told Die Welt.
“If in the future, the origin and value of materials are considered crucial, many products will no longer be considered German,” Driftmann told the German paper, adding that the move would cause “immense damage” to the German economy, including an increase in costs and a burgeoning bureacracy.
The EU tried to assuage fears by saying the new rule would only affect goods imported from outside the EU for production, calling it merely a quality control issue that wouldn’t affect German exports, according to Die Welt.
While Angela Merkel’s government has said it will adopt a wait-and-watch policy on the issue, it has made it clear that Germany would not take kindly to an undermining of the established rules against itself. “The federal government supports in any case the advance of the German economy,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.
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