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New French Vice-President

COTANCE welcomes Jean Christophe Muller, from French Tanneries Haas, as new Vice-President of COTANCE

MullerThe French Leather Federation - FFTM announced at the 2017 COTANCE Assembly General of Igualada the intention of Mr Pichon (from Tannerie Roux) to step back in his institutional functions at national and European level.

The positions in the COTANCE Presidency are allocated on a country basis and the national candidates are endorsed by a majority vote of members. France submitted to COTANCE the results of the sovereign changes in the positions of the French Federation and informed its European counterparts of the nomination of Mr Jean Christophe Muller as representative of French Tanners within COTANCE.

The 2017 Milan COTANCE Council gathering representatives from the National Leather Trade Associations of Itlay (UNIC), Spain (ACEXPIEL), France (FFTM), Germany (VDL), UK (UKLF), Portugal (APIC), Austria (FV TBSL / BG LE), Sweden (SG), Romania (APPBR), unanimously co-opted Mr Jean Christophe Muller (Tanneries Haas), member of the Board of FFTM, the French member of COTANCE, for taking over the position of Vice-President in the European Leather body.

COTANCE, October 10, 2017

Regulatory action requested for uniform leather authenticity

The Council of COTANCE requests the European Commission to use its power of legislative initiative for regulating leather authenticity labelling
in the EU market

The representatives of the Italian, Spanish, French, British, German, Portuguese, Austrian and Swedish tanners met on 6 October 2017 in Milan for their Autumn Council of COTANCE with the topics of “Leather authenticity” on their agenda.


At the beginning of the year COTANCE submitted a Paper to the European Commission requesting regulatory action for uniform leather authenticity rules in the EU, one of the largest global consumer markets for leather products. The leather industry has consistently requested EU to redress the market failures that the current legal fragmentation provokes for the last decade. The phenomenon of false and misleading product descriptions with regard to leather has grown exponentially reaching intolerable levels. The damage this causes to the leather industry and its value chains cannot be ignored, nor is it acceptable that consumers are systematically confused or deceived with descriptions that hide the true nature of the material that is purchased. Both sides have a legitimate right of protection; protection against the misuse of the term “leather” and protection against deceptive commercial practices that avoid disclosing the true composition of the products bought.


While in a different sector and regulatory environment, the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed in its ruling of 14 June 2017 (Case C-422/16: Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb vs. TofuTown) that purely plant-based products such as tofu or soya cannot, in principle, be marketed with descriptions such as ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’ and that these terms are reserved for animal products under EU law, it clearly sets a precedent for the principle of transparency and authenticity in the EU legal order. This cannot be limited only to Milk and Dairy. Also the leather sector pretends such legal protection and that misleading qualifying terms indicating the plant or else origin of the product concerned and/or that it does not contain animal products, are also prohibited.


The Global Leather Coordination Committee (GLCC), gathering the three international Leather organisations (International Council of Tanners – ICT, International Council of Hides, Skins and Leather Traders Associations – ICHSLTA, International Union of Leather Chemists and Technologists Societies - IULTCS) meeting earlier in Shanghai at the end of August equally condemns the current market dysfunctions and has specifically called on EU authorities to respond to the collective will expressed by the international leather community to bring about a solution to this illegitimate phenomenon.


Europe’s tanners express concern for developments in all their market segments from footwear to automotive, affecting equally Garments, Bags and pocket goods, and furniture. Through COTANCE they condemn in particular the practice to promote alternative materials by denigrating leather and soiling its environmental credentials. Fake news attributing the tanning industry responsibilities for the slaughter of animals or for polluting the environment adds insult to injury.


The leather industry has been forced to devote increasing resources to the defence of leather authenticity for fighting back the use of fallacious terms affecting leather in commercial communications and in the media in the absence of a clear regulatory environment. This constitutes a significant waste of resources that could be saved in this legitimate industry and value chain with appropriate authenticity and transparency rules.


Furthermore, COTANCE calls on the European Commission to take appropriate action in the case of Nike’s “Flyleather” campaign where the EU legal order disposes of rules for ensuring correct footwear labelling and impede unfair commercial practices . The “Flyleather” Campaign constitutes a challenge not only to EU labelling and fair trading rules, but also to the EU Environmental Footprinting initiative whose methodology has been ignored rendering futile the 3-year pilot phase for product category rules in the leather and footwear sectors.


The term “FlyLeather”, with which Nike promotes the product, is moreover illegal in several important EU member States’ consumer markets where legislation or standards prevent consumers from deceptive commercial practices and the leather industry from free riding its heritage.


COTANCE, in full alignment to ICT, reminds that in the European terminology standard EN 15987 one can read under 4.4.1
“leather fibre board, bonded leather fibre, recycled leather fibre and similar terms:
 material where tanned hides or skins are disintegrated mechanically and/or chemically into fibrous particles, small pieces or powders and then, with or without the combination of chemical binding agent, are made into sheets
Note 1 to entry:    If there is any other component apart from leather fibre, binding material and leather auxiliaries, then this should be declared as part of the description.
Note 2 to entry:    The minimum amount of 50 % in weight of dry leather is needed to use the term leather fibre board.
Note 3 to entry:    The term “leather” is only to be used for material with the original fibrous structure intact as defined under 4.1.1. Where the material has been disintegrated and reformed in some way, the appropriate generic term is “...X leather fibre”- for example,“ bonded leather fibre,” or “recycled leather fibre.” On this basis, the terms “recycled leather” or “recycling leather” are used incorrectly.”


For all these reasons the Council of COTANCE again requests the European Commission to respond to the leather industry call to use its power of legislative initiative for regulating leather authenticity labelling in the EU market

October 2017


In Igualada (9 June 2017), the COTANCE Council adopted a position statement on certifications of leather.

The document is available for download.

Photo Contest

Leather is my Job! partners launch a Photo-Contest and prepare for the Final Conference on 8 June in Igualada


On 23 February 2017, COTANCE and industriAll-European Trade Union met in Lineapelle to review the progress of the Leather is my Job! project with their partners. That morning, the LIMJ! partnership was invited to attend the “Amici per la Pelle” event organised by the Italian leather industry and Mr Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano had the opportunity to address the 1100 students, promote the appeal to work in the leather industry and present the LIMJ! initiative.


web Careers Stand 2 - South SomersetRepresentatives from UKLF (United Kingdom), VDL (Germany), FFTM (France), APIC (Portugal), BDSZ (Hungary), UGT-FICA (Spain), FILCTEM-CGIL (Italy), as well as UNIC that adhered to the initiative, took stock of the many national activities developed to promote the leather sector as an attractive employer to young people. These include dedicated printed material presenting testimonies of people working in the industry and explaining education, training and career opportunities, open-days organised at tanneries, visits to schools or attendance to job fairs. These activities are regularly reported on on the project website and facebook page (see hereunder) with links to downloadable material that can be used as promotional tools for both sides of industry to attract young people into the world of leather.


At their meeting in Lineapelle, the LIMJ! project partners decided to launch a European Photo Contest depicting “people at work” in tanneries and showing the appeal of working with leather. The EU project partners will award the two best pictures with a symP2203134smbolic monetary prize. A 3rd Prize will be awarded to the picture most liked by the public. This is an invitation for transnational interaction between people sharing the same affinities at work. All winners will be invited to attend the Final Project Conference in Igualada on 8 June 2017. The details of the contest can be found on the LIMJ! website or can be obtained from the national leather trade sssociations in the umbrella of COTANCE.


This second “Leather is my Job!” initiative will conclude its activities by mid-May and present them all in a Final Conference that will take place in Igualada, the reknown Catalan leather cluster. ACEXPIEL, the Spanish leather trade association, offered hosting the European leather community on June 8 for a day of review and discussions on and around leather, its image and the jobs that it offers now and in the future.

COTANCE and industriAll-European Trade Union look forward to increased interest in the leather industry as a source of wealth and jobs for the communities where it is established and to more interaction between the cities and regions supporting its development.

Brussels, February 2017


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Dr Ken Alexander passes away

COTANCE mourns the loss of another great man of leather science

Ken Alexander (27 October 1943 - 23 January 2017)

AlexanderDr K T W  (Ken) Alexander (BSc, MSc, PhD) was a member of GERIC, the European Grouping of Leather Technology Centres, who gave a dynamic turn to this body by starting a long list of EU funded R&D projects that yielded many benefits to the European tanning industry and equipped it notably with the technologies serving sustainability.  Ken Alexander was a highly appreciated President of GERIC.

Dr Alexander received his PhD in Biochemistry from Southampton University on the topic of cholesterol biosynthesis.  After finishing his PhD, he worked at the Medical Research Council Lipid Metabolism Unit at Hammersmith Hospital, then for University of Utah and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra.
Ken’s main career in leather started when he joined the then British Leather Manufacturers’ Research Association (BLMRA) in January 1980 as a specialist researcher in protein science. He was appointed Assistant Director, Technical, of the British Leather Confederation in 1985, became Technical Director in July 1990 and Chief Executive of BLC in 1992.
He remained as Chief Executive until his retirement in early 2006. During his time at BLC, Ken also served terms as President of SLTC and of  the international body, IULTCS; this included the organisation of a very successful international congress in London
As well as being an internationally recognised scientist, Ken applied his incisive mind and immense energy to his role as Chief Executive and he played a very important role in leading the modernisation of BLC during the 1990s.
He leaves behind his two sons, his beloved granddaughter, Ishani, and his sister, Lindsay.

New project for the TCLF Skills Council

Launch of the Digital TCLF 2025 project to provide the Textile, Clothing, Leather & Footwear sectors with the appropriate skills and competencies to face the digitization of the value chains

erasmusCOTANCE, representing the European Leather Industry, is one of the three sectors taking part in a multiannual ERASMUS+ KA2 project Digital TCLF 2025 (EU Textile, Clothing, Leather & Footwear (TCLF) Skills Council: analysis of emerging occupations in a digital environment). The project is coordinated by EURATEX.

The five project partners (COTANCE, EURATEX, European Shoe Confederation, industriAll-Europe and Spin360) held their launch meeting in EURATEX premises in Brussels in January 2017.

The objective of the project is to address the need to provide these (TCLF) sectors with the appropriate skills and competencies to embrace the digitization of the EU value chains. It is a follow-up initiative furthering the EU TCLF Skills Council set up by the Social Partners of the three sectors.
Moreover, improving the skills of the leather sector’s human resources and focusing notably on preparing the sector’s SMEs to the digital economy is one of the challenges identified in the Social Dialogue project “A Future for European Leather!” finalized in 2016 and thus part of the COTANCE priorities in the Action Plan towards 2025.

Digital TCLF 2025 will focus on: forecasting future impact of these occupations in terms of European employment and strategic development of the TCLF sectors and their SMEs; identifying gaps between the current Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers offer for the emerging occupations; drafting innovative VET & Training Programs, together with competent and relevant stakeholders, selected based on their possible involvement in future exploitation activities.

The work will be complemented by the development of skills recognition within the sectors and the definition of a roadmap for Digital Skills development in the TCLF sectors inclusive of exploitation strategies and training provision, whether it be VET-based or using other education and training activities tailored for the SMEs, their workers and being attractive to the young generations.


Project Acronym: Digital TCLF 2025
Project Title: EU Textile, Clothing, Leather & Footwear (TCLF) Skills Council: analysis of emerging occupations in a digital environment
Project Reference: 575850-EPP-1-2016-1-BE-EPPKA2-SSA
Project Duration: 24 months from 01.12.2016 – 30.11.2018
Project Partners
1.    EURATEX (coordinator), Belgium – Textiles & Clothing
2.    CEC, Belgium - Footwear
3.    COTANCE, Belgium - Leather
4.    IndustriAll Europe, Belgium – European Trade Union
5.    SPIN360, Italy