Brussels to banish Made in Britain

Niche brands that derive their cachet from their country of origin, and the retailers that sell them, could be hit by a European Commission initiative.

Brussels policymakers have proposed that all manufactured goods made in the European Union should carry a legend saying so, replacing the traditional Made in Britain, Made in France and similar.

German technology and high-end fashion items from Italy may be among items affected, along with various British luxury goods.

The draft proposal could be similarly deleterious for areas of manufacturing excellence such as Northampton, which has an international name for high-quality shoes, and the Belgian city of Antwerp, which, over the past 10 years, has become a hothouse for European fashion.

Pascale Weber, retail analyst at Brussels-based KBC Securities, said: 'More and more, the consumer wants to know where an item comes from.

I think the proposal will encounter reluctance from retailers, and such a labelling scheme would be received with scepticism by consumers.

'Shoppers would not connect with a Made in the EU label. How would they know whether an expensive item was made in Poland or Britain?'

According to Brussels sources, Italian diplomats - surprisingly - showed keenness for the idea.