January 15, 2014
I have a laptop on my desk. Made in China. I have a phone on my desk. Made in Taiwan. Speakers. Made in China. Usb drive. Made in China. Mouse. Made in China. A glass of water. Made in Bulgaria.5 industrial products, only 1 Made within the EU. Sure enough there are books on my table – 6 from various European publishers, 5 from US publishers. Some dried fruit, but those are local. A pomelo, also from China. Pens and liners. 98% made in China. 2% Made in Germany and Switzerland. Lighter fluid, made in the USA. My big old tea cup – Made in Thailand. Hand Gel made in Syria.
Don’t get me wrong – this diversity doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that there is nothing labeled “Made in EU”. The closest thing I got related to the EU is that there is stick on label on the lighter fluid that says “bought in the EU”. Bummer.
Does provenance matter that much? In a global market, with global flows of capital and goods, probably not. But this is not about economy. This is not about price tags, costs of labour. No. This is about what the French would call “la fierté”. I’m not expecting to have my desk littered with products stamped with EU. But I would expect at least some of them to bear this mark.
Because we have so many things which are great in this land, yet we seem to have a bad time “selling” them to our own people. In the US anything remotely labeled as European has a higher value. Why? Because there is an associated image regarding European quality of manufacture. Some of the nation states within the EU have a long tradition regarding branding the provenance on products: French wine, German cars, British tea and this list could go on. What I don’t see anywhere is a standard EU provenance.
Sure, those countries that have an established trademark in this respect might be less inclined to change that to EU. But that does not mean they should not.
A “Made in the EU” standard of quality is not that impossible to imagine. All we would have to do is take quality that can be found all over the continent and set a standard. In such a way that it would make manufacturers want to staple that on their products. And I’m not talking about very expensive items, but everyday use items. We might not even be aware of their provenance on a systematic, day to day basis. But there are those moments, when we do look. For no particular reason, but we do. We all do it.
And then the “why?” get’s a whole new dimension. It’s about identity. It is one of my favorite subjects, I know. Because I feel European. Proud European.
In the US identity supporting elements are everywhere – US flags everywhere, in front of houses, on mugs, on t-shirts, on stamps, on cars, on whatever you can imagine, somebody, somewhere is doing it with a clear, straight forward US branding. And it is a thing of pride. A symbol that grows with the young, that is there during an entire lifetime.
The closest the EU got to that was to have the EU flag posted wherever there is a national flag of a member state. But that is not enough.
December 1st is Romania’s national day. Outside the official celebrations, people, regular folk, put up flags on their windows, on their cars, wherever they can. To mark this moment. No EU flags. Not one.
Sure it can be argued that it is a national celebrations and as such people relate to it. No. Most nobody has a EU flag on hand to show. Why? Because there is no identity linking them to that. And that needs to change.
There are a million ways to do that. A “Made in the EU” stamp is just one of them.
I’m made in the EU. Are you?Horatiu Ferchiu