At the General Assembly, held in Athens (Greece) on the May 23 2003, Antonio Brotini, president of ANCI, was elected unanimously as Chairman of the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC). In the next two years, Brotini will be responsible for the path taken by the main representative structure of the EU-footwear sector.

From 22-23 May, Greece (ELSEVIE) was the host of 23 European associations who participated in the debate concerning the future of one of the most important industries in Europe.

At this CEC’s General Assembly, Fortunato Frederico of Appiccaps for his two year chairmanship of the Confederation, in succession of the French President Charles Etchandy. For the President of APICCAPS it was essential that the European footwear industry continues to affirm itself internationally and gains visibility. The access to international markets, free and fair trade, as well as technical, technological and environmental progress were not only essential to the future of the sector but key priorities to the Portuguese Presidency.

The World Footwear Congress held in Brussels in April 2003, the introduction of one integrated footwear research and development project (CEC-made-shoe) in the 6th framework program were key achievements.

The new chairman, Brotini, supported by the General Assembly, wants to continue the strategy of the past president. Improve the visibility of CEC (a new World Footwear Congress will be organised in Brussels in 2005), technological progress, whilst emphasising the need of increased market access for EU footwear worldwide.

The world markets should be opened for EU footwear given the fact that 65% are still closed, otherwise a further liberalisation of international trade as discussed in the Doha Development Agenda, makes no sense. Brotini subscribes to the action of CEC as the complete elimination of all non-tariff barriers including quotas and specific rights first, followed by a reduced common tariff level worldwide for all countries to be obtained at the same time.

According to Brotini, the future of the industry depends on the reinforcement of the European concept as a synonym of prestige, good taste and of a modern, refined, differential cultural attitude.

The Italian Presidency of CEC is more then symbolic. Italy as an important manufacturer wants to be united with all CEC members including those from the candidate countries to the EU (Russia, Ukraine, Morocco and Tunisia) in order to defend the European industry.