The European textile and clothing industry “is ready to transform the [coronavirus] crisis into an opportunity, and become more digital, sustainable, and agile,” according to Euratex, which represents the sector.
It has created a “strategy for recovery from the Covid-19 era” that includes five flagship initiatives in critical areas that will also require a commitment to invest by the EU.
The body said the industry can help avoid a repeat of the depth of the crisis seen from the pandemic by organizing guaranteed supplies and building resilient value chains in Europe for critical PPE and other textile products.
It also feels that small and medium-sized enterprises need to “upskill their existing workforce to meet a rapidly transforming industry and attract well-qualified young workers and professionals. That’s because the textile and clothing workforce” is growing older, as 35% of it is over 50 years old”.
It’s focusing on innovation too and the sector “should invest in innovative and sustainable textiles through dedicated Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) at EU level [to] accelerate research, innovation, pilot testing and demonstration in critical areas, like digital manufacturing and supply chains”.
And sustainability is on the agenda as well, as it’s urging that five recycling hubs should be established in Europe near textile and apparel districts to make raw materials by collecting, sorting, processing, and recycling post-production and post-consumption textile waste.
Finally, it wants to ensure that “goods blocked by national authorities at the borders should not happen in the future”. Euratex wants a commitment to promoting the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean integrated free trade ecosystem and exploiting market opportunities resulting from other EU trade deals.
The group said of all this: “European textiles and clothing companies proved to be essential to managing the pandemic, as a great number converted to or increased the production of PPE. But this strategic role goes beyond the past events, as, without textile materials, no cars, clothes, machines or buildings can be built. The last months highlighted 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.”