Onofre: Number One

Chairman of APICCAPS is re-elected to lead the European Footwear Confederation

Luís Onofre was re-elected chairman, for another two-year term, of the European Footwear
Confederation (CEC), the body representing the industry across Europe, consisting of 21,000 companies employing 278,000 people.

The entrepreneur and designer from Oliveira de Azeméis, who is also chairman of the Portuguese Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association (APICCAPS) war unanimously re-elected at the CEC General Assembly, which took place on 25 June.

Luís Onofre’s first mandate was marked by an unprecedented economic and health crisis. “These two years have been the most difficult for our sector, but we have to be resilient and seek out opportunities so European footwear can strengthen its status on the international market. Maintaining free and fair trade is our priority, particularly a system that is based on free, fair and balanced trade,” he said.

During the past two years, the CEC has focused its efforts on calling on the EU to regulate global trade, particularly the development of a European Industrial Strategy with complementary tools and regulations that will support the green and digital transformation of footwear companies. “The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on European industry has triggered a much-needed update of the European Industrial Strategy. Aiming to facilitate the transition of European industrial sectors to a greener and more digital economy, the strategy also recognises the importance of maintaining a strong industrial fabric in Europe to ensure its strategic independence.”

Revision of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)

“When it comes to openness of trade, the CEC has worked closely with European bodies to accelerate the ratification of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, an important trade agreement that could be an excellent opportunity for the EU to promote its environmental values and standards while contributing to the sustainability of the economic model of Mercosur countries.” Another strategic market for EU footwear is the US and, with the new US President, it is hoped that the transatlantic alliance will soon be restored. The CEC and its US counterparts are committed to participating actively in the relaunch of trade relations together with European and US public authorities.

The CEC has also been involved in the forthcoming review of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) to ensure future regulations include the necessary safeguard measures to protect EU companies and ensure the diversification of export products from beneficiary countries so they can develop their economies.

Putting young people first

“Attracting a new generation of talent” is one of Luís Onofre’s priorities for this mandate. In 2019, 70% of EU companies could not find young and skilled workers, making it difficult for them to invest and expand. Over the past two years, the CEC has incorporated several European projects (#InMyShoes, Erasmus +, Blueprint, Skills4Smart, TCLF 2030) with the aim of attracting talent to companies. For Luís Onofre this will be a crucial area over the next two years.

Digitalisation and sustainability

Digitalisation and sustainability are also two critical areas. At the last CEC General Assembly, Valentina Superti, representing the European Commission, made it clear that “every crisis is an accelerator for trends, and while digitalisation and sustainability are permanent commitments, they are now more important than ever.”

Therefore, “over the next two years, the CEC will continue to ensure that EU activities support European footwear companies in adapting and seizing green and digital opportunities. The CEC, along with all its stakeholders, will continue to promote the sector to a younger audience, while promoting consideration of the qualification and reskilling the current and future workforce.”

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