Thursday, 19 January 2012

German Label At Risk

The Germans aren't happy with the European Union.

An EU Commissioner, Algirdas Semeta, plans to restrict the sought after 'Made In Germany' label to products where at least 45% of the value content comes from Germany.

Until now, EU rules defined the country of origin as the place where 'the last substantial, economically justified processing' took place.  Under that rule, products labelled 'Made In Germany' today can be almost completely produced abroad but given their finishing touches in a German factory.

The stricter definition plan has angered Germany's industry lobby and the President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) stated:"If in the future the origin and value of materials are considered crucial, many products will no longer be considered German."  He predicted the changes would inflict 'immense damage' on the German economy.  He's probably correct.

The final decision on the controversial amendment to product origin rules has yet to be taken.  The move must first be approved by member country governments before taking effect.

Will Britain approve it?  It shouldn't matter much because the UK no longer manufactures much.  The Germans will put up a strong fight though - they have so much more to lose.



RMcGeddon said...

"Will Britain approve it? It shouldn't matter much because the UK no longer manufactures much"

It doesn't matter much because it will be rubber stamped with the EU majority voting ;)

subrosa said...

The Germans won't take this lying down RM. Their industry lobbies are the strength of their country.

forfar-loon said...

You're right SR, Germany won't stand for this at all! The German version of the article quotes a CDU MEP as saying it's a lot of fuss about nothing at this stage, but if and when Semeta tries to introduce it he'll have a big fight on his hands.

I vaguely remember that the renovations for the Reichstag in Berlin used Scottish timber for something or other. Except that it was stored in Germany for a certain period, and it then magically became German timber. I can't think why this would have been done, except perhaps to claim that the shiny new parliament was 100% German. Does anyone else remember that or have I made it up? (I couldn't find anything online about it)

Clarinda said...

I gather much of our grain for the distilling industry is imported - and the barrels are either Spanish or Tuscan. Where will these meddling, unwanted jobsworths do something actually of benefit - there are plenty of EU bureaucrats out there that need catagorised as 'No Fitting Purpose'... and I do mean Fitting!

Gedguy said...


That is a good point. With the world so economically integrated it is nearly impossible to source all the components of a finished article from the one country. MacAllans whisky sources its oak barrels from the Jerez region in Spain. So is Macallans Scottish or Spanish?

RMcGeddon said...

"The Germans won't take this lying down RM. Their industry lobbies are the strength of their country."

I doubt it SR. I tried searching for any case where Germany blocked, restricted or stopped any EU Law and got nothing. There was one story about Germany trying to block the UK referendum with a secret pact but that was it. Germany has allowed all the other restrictions on their industry ( mass labour influxes from abroad, working time directives etc). What makes you think they will suddenly change tack ?
Millions of hits for UK

Oldrightie said...

EU genuine Whisky, eh? That will be some event when all Scotch whisky must use Scottish grain! Sales would go in the same direction as The EU itself.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I wouldn't mind if the debt crises had a big label attached to it saying - Made in London & Wall Street USA?

Budvar said...

I don't see it getting through, however I do think he has a point. Lamb reared in Aberdeen, loaded onto a cattle truck and taken to an abattoir somewhere in the Dordogne, miraculously becomes French lamb.

A local mill produces continental quilts for the big name supermarkets. By "produces" I mean they buy the quilts ready made from China, but pack them in plastic bags locally and would you believe it, they miraculously become "Made in England".

I think using the "Sherry casks for Scotch whisky" argument is stretching things a little, and as for "Imported barley" that all depends of your interpretation of "Imported" doesn't it? Barley grown 30 miles south of the Tweed?

Brian said...


The UK ranks seventh in the world in terms of total manufacturing output.

In 2009 it accounted for 11% of GDP or £140 billion and employed 2.5 million people.

We still hammer things together in the Midlands.

Brian said...

Looking at Table 2 in the Parliamentary Briefing Paper one sees that the UK's share of world manufacturing had stayed at about 4% since 1970 until it fell off the cliff to 2.3% after the Brown putsch.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Just to clear a point, grain whisky is used for blending. The malts are distilled from specified barley and often limited to specific growth areas in Scotland and all are specified by the distiller.

Cask used are generally made in Scotland then sent to Spain or Tuscany for the wood oils to be leached prior to them being filled with whisky.

Hamish said...

It's precisely because the UK doesn't manufacture much that it will affect the UK. Rightly so.
In the electronics industry, the practice of passing off another company's product as your own was known as label-engineering; all your company added was the label, which of course carried the prestige of the brand.
Too often the brand was sold short

I'm fed up with scratchy pullovers and scarves that masquerade as made from Scottish or Shetland wool. Maybe they are, by a long stretch of DNA. But the quality isn't there.

subrosa said...

I think it's a proposal which will come to the fore this year forfar-loon. German media aren't like us and refuse to publish EU ideas until the last minute.

Haven't heard about that wood. Must ask some German friends.

subrosa said...

If I recall correctly (and I'm speaking about the 50s, 60s and 70s here), Spanish sherry used to be shipped here in wooden (usually oak) casks. When finished with they would be sold to the whisky industry here because the maturing in these casks produced a better product.

Noawadays some of the good malt producers make their own casks and send them to Spain to be used for sherry Clarinda.

They are then returned when duly soaked for a number of years.

It's been suggested to me that sherry is now sent here in metal casks because of the amount I consume, but I'd argue with that. :) I believe it is sent in metal casks these days and that's why they're now limited and some make their own.

I think the MacAllan do that, but I could be wrong. It's a while since I did the whisky trail.

subrosa said...

Ah Gedguy so it is The Macallan. Last time I visited they said they were making their own casks then sending them to Spain for the 'sherry' treatment. Maybe they've stopped that.

subrosa said...

Part of the reason is that the Germans propose so many of the laws there RM.:)

I do have a little sympathy about this though, especially the meat business. That's why I stick to my butcher for meat. Just can't trust 'Scotch Beef' on a label is true.

subrosa said...

We don't have maltsers here OR as you know. I know that grain comes from England but didn't know lots comes from S Africa too.

Seems there's no problem with that.

subrosa said...

Neither would I Crinkly.

subrosa said...

That's a good point Budvar. Nothing really is as it seems these days.

subrosa said...

I know you manufacture in the Black Country still Brian, but nothing on the scale we did.

Thanks for these links. However we import far more surely, or we'd be like Germany.

When you see we're 34th in terms of manufacturing per head and 108th as a share of gross value added the story isn't so good.

subrosa said...

Only very few whisky distillers use grain from Scotland these days Crinkly. It's too expensive because of the unreliable weather I believe and most go through registered maltsers.

Your point about the casks is what I was told, although the story I had was that they were used for sherry by the Spanish as sherry casks make better malt.

subrosa said...

Hamish I agree. There should be some form of control over items.

As for mechanical manufacturing, I'm sure the Germans could produce everything they need, but it's so much cheaper for them to use poorer countries.

microdave said...

Without an adequate, reliable supply of electricity no country (even Germany)is going to be making anything...

Energy intensive industries are bolting, or are planning to do so

Brian said...


Actually, Coventry isn't part of the Black Country which is generally considered to be Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, West Bromwich and a bit of Wolverhampton. Thery're in South Staffs and Worcestershire whereas Coventry is surrounded by leafy Warwickshire. It's a great place and, like Dundee, has its own cake, a sort of triangular Eccles called a Godcake.

subrosa said...

Indeed Microdave, that is another problem in Germany right now.

I've heard businesses have been looking at hydro but of course not many places are suitable, especially in the industrialised south.

They do have a serious problem now nuclear is off the cards.

subrosa said...

Sorry Brian, didn't mean to insult. Of course Coventry is out of the Back country boundary - even I know that. :)

I don't know it well. Only times I've been is to visit a relative who was dying in the hospital there and that was many years ago now.

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