Equitable Trade Rules Trade Justice & European Union

The Fair Trade definition in the Charter of Fair Trade principles clearly lays down the importance of “campaigning for changes in the rules and practices of conventional international trade”.

The Lisbon Treaty recognises that sustainable development (in the EU and beyond), free and fair trade and poverty reduction are objectives of the EU. Yet the EU has failed so far to move away from its “business as usual” approach to trade policy.

This means the FTAO and the Fair Trade movement work on or has worked on the following policy areas:

To achieve the following objectives:

2.1. EU promotes equitable North-South trade rules

2.2. EU policies encourage the buying policies and practices of companies operating in the EU to reflect the principles behind Fair Trade and improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South

Agriculture & Commodities

The Fair Trade movement believes in the role of trade in agricultural commodities to lift marginalised producers and workers out of poverty, if done according to Fair Trade terms. However, regulatory, policies and business practices make it very difficult, in particular for the most disadvantaged.

The FTAO has worked on a number of commodities that exemplify the imbalances in global trade and made recommendations on how to address them. 

Further reading

Further reading

Interesting articles

Fashion Revolution Day: what is in it for EU policy makers? (April 2015)

“Better trade”, but only for the powerful? (September 2013)

Voluntary initiatives against unfair trade practices: The bully needs a watchdog with teeth (September 2013)

FTAO Press releases: 

Commission passes on hot potato on Unfair Trading Practices (July 2014)

EU’s Snail Pace To Tackling Supply Chain Abuse (January 2013)

New report offers ways forward for Europe in tackling supply chain abuse (April 2012)

FTAO Position Papers: 

FTAO submissions to the Fairness in Retailing consultation (September 2010)

FTAO Newsletter Articles: 

The need for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to address the governance of value chains  (March 2015)

The Banana Game: 'hard discounters' jeopardizing producers’ livelihoods (March 2015)

New EU Directive requires large companies to report on their impact on human rights (June 2014)

43,437 signers demand strong enforcement against abuses of power in supply chains (June 2014)

Reining in the Retailers (September 2013)

The Relationship Between Supermarkets and Their Suppliers: What Are the Implications for Consumers? (October 2012)

Stop supermarkets abusing their buyer power (January 2012) 

Further reading

FTAO Press Releases:

Fairtrade Access Fund To Provide Long-Term Loans To Smallholder Farmers (April 2012)

FTAO Position Papers: 

FTAO Briefing Note to the Members of the European Parliament on the Sugar reform in CAP (April 2012)

CAP post-2013 and impacts on marginalised producers and workers in the South (June 2010)

European Commission's GREEN PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT QUALITY - Public Consultation (December 2008)

FTAO Newsletter Articles:

Journey towards a living wage (June 2014)

Revised Fairtrade International Standard for Hired Labour bolsters support for workers (March 2014)

New Fairtrade Sourcing Programs give farmers new opportunities to sell (March 2014)

Celebrating Quinoa Cooperatives during the International Year of Quinoa (September 2013)

Power, rights, and inclusive markets: Public policies that support small-scale agriculture (September 2013)

Fair Trade as “source of hope” for securing human rights in agriculture (September 2013)

Place Agriculture on the Agenda of Climate Change Negotiations (January 2013)

The bitterness of cocoa discussed in the European Parliament (June 2012)

Fair Trade producers told European Parliamentarians the real story of climate change at the climate meeting in Durban (January 2012)

Fair Trade coffee with a gender dimension (January 2012)

Success for Fair Flowers campaign with Members of the European Parliament (January 2012)

The voices of small-scale farmers will be brought by Fairtrade Africa to the climate meeting in Durban (October 2011)

Rising commodity prices and changing climate: what is the role of Fair Trade? (October 2011)

Sustainable small-scale agriculture as part of the solution: Oxfam's GROW Campaign (June 2011)

Recommendations for the EU’s trade in agriculture and CAP post 2013 policies (June 2011)

The global impact of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (June 2011)

Unraveling the great cotton stitch up (January 2011)

Developing countries should be more than just raw material producers (January 2011)

Fair Trade enters the international climate change debate in Cancun, Mexico (January 2011)

Companies Buying Policies and Practices

Income/Wages too low to live on and labour rights not respected

With little or no bargaining power, in a market dominated by just a few buyers, suppliers and farmers are forced to accept low prices. These are repeatedly passed on in the form of low wages to workers and low prices to farmers. In these circumstances, lack of respect of labour rights is widespread.

Environmental damage

The drive by food companies and supermarkets to meet – and dictate – modern (over)consumption patterns is potentially highly damaging to the environment.

Consumers not better off

Smaller and specialist suppliers can’t meet the volumes and price or quality demands of the European importing companies and supermarkets. Less choice of products and shopping places make consumers the victims of this vicious circle.

In this context, increasingly, companies operating in the EU realize the importance of having sustainable and fair supply chains. Certain companies have put in place best practices that other companies should be encouraged to follow.


What are FTAO´s views?

Who does FTAO work with?

Further reading



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