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.

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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

4 European public authorities rewarded for their Fair Trade cotton commitments

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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”.




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



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