European civil society coalition calls on MEP candidates to support trade and investment rules that work for people and the planet

2 April 2014 (Brussels) - European civil society coalition calls on MEP candidates to support trade and investment rules that work for people and the planet

Today, a European alliance of over 50 civil society organisations [1] will launch the Alternative Trade Mandate pledge campaign [2], calling on European Parliament election candidates to make EU trade and investment policy serve people and the planet, not just the profit of a few large corporations.

“The EU’s current trade and investment policy is a recipe for disaster for people around the world. The EU is leading an aggressive agenda to open markets for global agri-business. This is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. Excessive investor rights take away much needed policy space. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda,” said Lyda Fernanda Forero of the Transnational Institute, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.

The online pledge campaign will run in six EU languages (EN, FR, ES, DE, GR, HU) and will enable activists and citizens to ask candidates to pledge in support of a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policy. The website will monitor which candidates have supported different parts of the pledge.

MEP candidates will be asked to support measures that enable people to control their own local food systems as well as core labour standards and human rights’ assessments of EU trade and investment policy. Candidates will also be asked to oppose the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and to call on the European Commission to immediately publish all texts from trade and investment negotiations with third countries such as, for example, the United States.

“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process which is controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than being driven by unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups,” said Sergi Corbalán, executive director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.

The pledge campaign is the result of a four-year process of public workshops held all over Europe during which the Alternative Trade Mandate was developed; it is a 20-page civil society proposal to democratise EU trade and investment policy and put environmental protection as well as human and labour rights at its heart [3]. Some MEPs have already supported the proposal via video messages [4].

“At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will support trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade and investment rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few,” says Amélie Canonne, co-ordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.

Today and tomorrow, members of the Alternative Trade Mandate alliance will meet with MEPs and political groups in the European Parliament in Brussels to gather their support to the pledge campaign. At the margins of the EU-Africa Summit (in Brussels today and tomorrow), campaigners will today also participate in a morning protest against the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific [5].

Contact:

Lyda Fernanda Forero, Transnational Institute [ES], [EN]

+31685086340, lydafernanda@tni.org

Sergi Corbalán, Fair Trade Advocacy Office [ES], [EN], [FR]

+32 (0) 2 543 19 23, corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org

Amélie Canonne, coordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance [FR], [EN]

+33.6.24.40.07.06, alternativetrademandate@gmail.com

Notes:

[1] Current members of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance are: Afrika Kontakt (Denmark), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (Germany), AITEC (France), Alternative Trade Network (Greece), Attac Austria, Attac France, Attac Germany, Attac Hungary, Attac Spain, Bothends (Netherlands), CAWN, CNCD (Belgium), Colibri (Germany), Comhlamh (Ireland), Commission of Filipino migrant workers (Netherlands), Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium), Ecologistas en Accion (Spain), European Milkboard, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (Belgium), Fairwatch (Italy), FDCL (Germany), FIAN Germany, Food & Water Europe, Germanwatch (Germany), GMB (UK), Misereor (Germany), No Patents on Life! (Germany), Oxfam Germany, Philippinenbuero (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consument (Earth, Farmer, Consumer – Netherlands), Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe, PowerShift (Germany), Seattle to Brussels Network, SOMO (Netherlands), Terra Nuova (Italy), Trade Justice Movement (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Vedegylet (Hungary), War on Want (UK), WEED (Germany), World Development Movement (UK), Za Zemiata (Bulgaria), 11.11.11. (Belgium)

Our supporter organisations: ActionAid Netherlands, Africa Roots Movement (Netherlands), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), ASEED Europe, Attac Denmark, CEE Bankwatch Network (headquatered in the Czech Republic), Clean Clothes Campaign Netherlands, Confédération paysanne (France), Dutch section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – Netherlands), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), FAIR TRADE HELLA (Greece), FIOM-CGIL (Metalworkers Federation – Italy), FIAN Netherlands, FNV Netherlands, France Amérique Latine (France), Friends of the Earth Europe, Glopolis (Czech Republic), Hegoa (Spain), Indian Committee of the Netherlands, Milieu Defensie (Netherlands), National Peace and Justice Network (UK), OIKOS (Netherlands), Philippinenbüro (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consumer (Netherlands), Platform for an economy based on sustainability and solidarity (Netherlands), Respect Network in Europe, STRO (Netherlands), Supermacht (Netherlands), Traidcraft (UK), Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP), TRUSTED Migrants (Netherlands), La Via Campesina Europe, Wemos (Netherlands), XminY (Netherlands)

[2] Visit the pledge campaign website at: www.alternativetrademandate.org

[3] Download the Alternative Trade Mandate in English ( http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Trade-time_for_a_new_vision-JAN14-PRINT.pdf), Spanish (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-ES-JAN14-PRINT.pdf), French (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-FR-PRINT.pdf) and Dutch (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-NL-PRINT.pdf)

[4] Why support the Alternative Trade Mandate? Responses from trade justice activists, http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/why-supporting-the-alternative-trade-mandate-some-responses-in-video/

[5] For more information on civil society activities around the EU-Africa summit, see: http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/afrikagrupperna/news/brussels-the-epa-that-the-eu-imposes-vs-the-trade-policy-that-africa-needs-81050

Toast to Fair Trade in Public Procurement

15 January 2014 (Strasbourg) - The new EU public procurement rules voted today make it easy to buy fair. EU Commissioner Michel Barnier and key Members of the European Parliament celebrated this good news for Fair Trade.

The new EU public procurement Directive was voted today by a large majority of Members of the European Parliament, after a political agreement reached with the Council of Ministers. The vote puts an end to the revision procedure initiated three years ago by the European Commission. Public authorities across Europe will be able henceforth to make a deliberate choice for Fair Trade products, besides taking into account other sustainability considerations. The new law confirms the direction set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the “North Holland” case ruling (Commission vs Netherlands C‑368/10), which for the first time clarified that public contracts can award additional points to products “of fair trade origin”. The possibility to consider social aspects alongside environmental ones is a step forward from the existing rules. Furthermore, the new Directive explicitly allows referring to robust certification schemes as a proof of compliance with the sustainability requirements set out in call for tenders.

To celebrate the good outcome for Fair Trade, the Fair Trade Working Group in the European Parliament organised a drink with fairly-traded sparkling wine right after the vote and clinked glasses with EU Commissioner Michel Barnier and leading Members of the European Parliament from various political groups. "I have always said I believe in open borders. But trade has to be both free and fair. The two words must go together. That is the condition for successful and accepted globalisation which is genuinely in the interest of all, and in particular the poorest. The Fair Trade working group does extremely useful work in this area, promoting these policies and I fully support Linda McAvan and her team's tireless work in this area”, stated the Commissioner.

Toast for Fair Trade in Public Procurement 15-Jan-2013 EP Strasbourg - Copy 1024x545

From Left to Right: MEP Marc Tarabella (S&D, Belgium), MEP Linda McAvan (S&D, UK), EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, MEP Heide Rühle (Greens, Germany) and Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)

The Fair Trade movement welcomes the new text, which should reassure and encourage public authorities across Europe that already support farmers in the South through their purchases to continue doing so. The new EU rules will also hopefully also drive others towards the sustainable development path.

Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office stated “The ball is now on the Members States’ court as they need to implement the changes introduced by the new EU rules into national law. Member States should use this opportunity to also put in place socially sustainable sourcing strategies that support Fair Trade”.

The new public procurement Directive is expected to enter into force in March 2014. EU Member States will then have two years to transpose it into national law.


Contact: Elba Estrada

Tel: +32 (0)2 54 31 92 3
Fair Trade Advocacy Office
Village Partenaire - bureau 12
15 rue Fernand Bernierstraat
1060 Brussels - Belgium

Fair and transparent fashion and textile supply chains – it’s time for EU action!

2 December 2015 (Brussels) - Fashion Revolution and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office joined forces on the 1st December to raise awareness amongst EU decision makers of the lack of transparency and imbalances of power in fashion and textile supply chains, from farmer to consumer.

In the context of the European Year for Development, Fashion Revolution and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office organised a debate in Brussels on Tuesday evening, hosted by Arne Lietz, Member of the European Parliament. Participants at the conference heard the testimonial of Youssouf Djimé Sidibe from the Association of African Cotton Producers, who reported on the situation faced by small cotton farmers. Sergi Corbalán, on behalf of the Fair Trade movement, stated: “Cotton farmers are the often-forgotten actors in the fashion and textile supply chains. We call on the EU to put in place an action plan to ensure fair and transparent fashion and supply chains, from farmer to consumer”.

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From the left: Arne Lietz (MEP) S&D, Germany, Carry Somers( Fashion Revolution),Sara Ditty (Fashion Revolution),Roberto Ridolfi (European Commission, Director DG DEVCO), Sergi Corbalan ( Director of Fair Trade Advocacy Office), Youssouf Djime' Sidibe( Association of African Cotton Producers) 

The event also included contributions by Roberto Ridolfi, Director at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament. Mr Ridolfi shared the EC’s plans on responsibility in textile and garment supply chains.

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Mr Youssouf Djime' Sidibe and Jean Lambert(MEP) Greens/European Free Alliance United Kindom 

Fashion Revolution launched its first white paper “It’s Time for a Fashion Revolution” which argues that more transparency is needed across the fashion industry, from seed to waste. The white paper contextualises Fashion Revolution’s efforts, sets out the organisation's philosophy and how it is involving the public, the industry, policymakers and other stakeholders around the world towards a safer, cleaner, more fair and beautiful future for fashion.

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Carry Somers, on behalf of Fashion Revolution, closed the evening explaining that: “Most of the public is still not aware that human and environmental abuses are endemic across the fashion and textiles industry and that what they’re wearing could have been made in an exploitative way. We don’t want to wear that story anymore. We want to see fashion become a force for good."


Media contacts

Orsola de Castro

Fashion Revolution

Co-founder / Director

press@fashionrevolution.org

Sergi Corbalán

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Executive Director

+ 32 (0)2 543 19 23

corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org

4 European public authorities rewarded for their Fair Trade cotton commitments

logo cot

Bremen, 28 March 2014 – The city of Paris and the French Post office, the municipality of Traun in Austria and the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom were recognised for their excellence in Fair Trade cotton procurement yesterday evening at the European Fair Trade Cotton Procurement Awards ceremony that took place in Bremen, Germany.

The winners of the first-ever pan-European Award Scheme on Fair Cotton Procurement have shown that Fair Trade commitments made in the framework of different campaigns can be translated into real purchasing practices in support of cotton farmers and workers in the South. This was showcased in the following categories:

1) Local authorities above 100.000 inhabitants: City of Paris, France

The city of Paris (2.2 million inhabitants) in the framework of its Fair Trade Towns commitments dresses one third of its uniformed agents with Fairtrade cotton uniforms. The Judging Panel acknowledged the amount and variety of Fairtrade certified cotton products purchased, which has steadily raised over the time, as well as the fact that this initiative came from the procurement staff of the city.

For this category, the region of Brittany was highly commended. This region has put in place a very interesting project in the framework of its decentralised cooperation with the West African Economic and Monetary Union that seeks to support the Fair Trade cotton value chain and create demand in the North.

2) Local authorities below 100.000 inhabitants: Municipality of Traun, Austria

The municipality of Traun (23.000 inhabitants) is very active in awareness-raising around the topic of Fair Trade. They have taken their commitments forward and bought Fairtrade certified Polo T-Shirts to dress three out of four staff members in the municipality. The Jury welcomed this very significant engagement, given the size and possibilities of the municipality.

 

3) National authorities (supra-local entities), including public bodies: La Poste, France

La Poste is the forerunner for the purchase of Fairtrade cotton clothing in France. La Poste impressed the Jury with its track record of Fairtrade cotton purchases: to date, 100% of their T-Shirts and 40% of the work wear are Fairtrade cotton certified. This strong commitment has been backed by a comprehensive communication campaign among the postmen.

The Ministry of Defence was awarded the highly commended status for their very recent, but firm support to Fair Trade cotton, with the aim of souring 5% of their cotton under Fair Trade terms.

 

4) Educational establishments: universities and student organisations: The London School of Economics (LSE), United Kingdom

Most of the staff working for LSE wears Fairtrade cotton certified uniforms. In addition, all the promotional clothes of LSE are made of Fairtrade cotton. LSE is encouraging other high educational establishments to follow their example. This, together with the determination to go beyond Fairtrade in all procurement categories, tipped the balance in favour of LSE.

 

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The four winners of the European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards received yesterday evening their sustainably-produced trophies during the final conference of the EC-funded “Cotton on to Fairtrade procurement” project in Bremen, Germany.

Accepting the Award, Rachid Sifany, head of the clothing bureau of the city of Paris said: “This trophy rewards the commitments of the city of Paris in sustainable development, and in particular in Fair Trade. The cooperation with all the stakeholders in the supply chain has allowed us to develop a partnership with African Fair Trade cotton producers and create impact in tehir communities".

The selection process for the Awards took place in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria. A pre-selection at the national level was followed by a final selection at European level. The Judging Panel included the Fair Procurement project team and a member from GET CHANGED! The Fair Fashion Network, one member from the ObSAR (French Observatory of Responsible Purchasing) and another one from the Ethical Fashion Forum. “The winners have shown leadership in responsible procurement. They have brought their Fair Trade commitments further and extended their choice to fairly traded cotton clothing”, said the Judging Panel.

Solobamady Keita, Secretary General of the National Union of Cotton Producers’ Cooperative Societies of Mali, who handed in the trophies to the Award winners, declared “This Award acknowledges the importance of the people that harvest the cotton, but also the people that wear the Fair Trade clothing. The Fair Trade cotton producers are thankful to the forerunners that have been rewarded today, and would like to see other public authorities in Europe procuring Fair Trade cotton for their work wear”.

 

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The European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards are organised with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the partners of the “Cotton on to Fairtrade procurement” project and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

   

Contact: Elba Estrada

Email: coordination@fairprocurement.info

The human cost of cheap bananas

10 November 2015 (Brussels) - New report shows how increasing market power and Unfair Trading Practices of European supermarkets affect banana small farmers and plantation workers

 Banana workers and small farmers in developing countries are exposed to toxic agro-chemicals, earn poverty level wages and work in a climate of fear, reveals the report “Banana value chains in Europe and the consequences of Unfair Trading Practices” published today by Banana Link and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office FTAO. The report also shows how European supermarkets contribute to this situation by engaging in Unfair Trading Practices. (UTPs).

The banana supply chain has long been a symbol of injustices in the global trade market. For instance, since 2001 banana wholesale prices have fallen by almost 25%, whilst retailers have increased their share of the banana value to around 40%.The same period has seen significant increases in both production and living costs. Food, health, education and other living costs have rocketed, for example, by as much as 278% in the Dominican Republic.

“Around 40% of the profits on bananas are kept by the retailer, whilst workers receive only 0.7 to 1%. This barely meets the costs of subsistence. It is certainly not a living wage, nor decent work, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO)”, says Iris Munguia, Representative of COLSIBA (Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Unions).

“The imbalance of power in the banana supply chain and Unfair Trading Practices of supermarkets come at a high price”, says Jacqui Mackay, UK National Coordinator of Make Fruit Fair! from Banana Link. “This generates and amplifies significant negative social and environmental impacts in most banana producing countries, including the denial of basic human rights, gender discrimination, a failure to earn living wages, and long working hours.”

For decades a few multinational companies have dominated the banana market, negatively affecting the lives of workers and farmers. Now, the power has shifted to the supermarkets. “Concentration in the European retail market has rapidly increased in recent years and this will continue. In Germany only four supermarket chains dominate 85 per cent of the market.”, says Franziska Humbert, Policy Advisor Labour Rights and CSR at Oxfam Deutschland. “Supermarkets use their growing buying power to push prices down below sustainable levels.”

The European Commission already acknowledged the prevalence of UTPs and will decide at the end of this year whether to propose stronger regulation or not. There is now a window of opportunity in the European Union policy process to tackle Unfair Trading Practices in the food supply chains”, says Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office FTAO.50.000 European citizens have signed the Make Fruit Fair! petition urging the Commissioner Bieńkowska to make a legislative proposal.

The report is based on interviews of more than sixty actors from the banana industry in several Latin American countries and a survey conducted in Costa Rica in August 2015. It reveals several UTPs like one-sided clauses in contracts with producers and exporters that lead to cancellations and rejections of orders on dubious grounds.

It documents market data both at European level but also focuses on the specific markets of the United Kingdom, Portugal, Malta, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Latvia and Romania.

Notes for editors

  • The Make Fruit Fair! Campaign is a global consortium of 19 partners from the European Union, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador and the Windward Islands - coordinated by Oxfam Germany. More information is available at www.makefruitfair.org
  • The report Banana value chains in Europe and the consequences of Unfair Trading Practices sets out the main findings of research commissioned by the Make Fruit Fair campaign that investigated how banana value chains in Europe operate. The research also looks at UTPs between fruit buyers in Europe and banana producers in exporting countries, their consequences on farmers, workers and consumers, and the relationship with pressure on prices in European markets. It is available to download at: www.makefruitfair.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/banana_value_chain_research_FINAL_WEB.pdf
  • An EU policy briefing document is available to download at www.fairtrade-advocacy.org/power
  • Recent photos of banana and pineapple production in Costa Rica are available at www.flickr.com/photos/bananalink/albums/72157658379715533. The photos are from Feedback (http://feedbackglobal.org/) who undertook field research in Costa Rica for the report. Please feel free to use any of these photos, credited to Feedback.
  • The Make Fruit Fair petition signatures will be handed over to the EC at 11am Tuesday 10 November at Berlaymont Building, Wetstraat / Rue de la Loi 200, 1000 Brussels - photographers are welcome to attend. Photos of the petition hand over will be made available shortly afterwards.

Media contacts

Sergi Corbalán

Executive Director

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Brussels, Belgium

corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org

+32 (0) 2 543 19 23

Jacqui Mackay

National Co-ordinator

Banana Link

United Kingdom

info@bananalink.org.uk

+44 (0)1603 765670

Franziska Humbert

Policy Advisor Labour Rights and CSR

Oxfam Deutschland e.V.

fhumbert@oxfam.de

+49-171-212 41 06

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