News and press releases


Fairtrade International and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office statement on the agreement of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive at the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (COREPER).

Brussels, 15 March 2024 – Today, EU Member states finally agreed to give green light to the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) during the meeting of the COREPER.

The Directive, still subject to the European Parliament approval, will be a diluted compromise which was only possible after a frustrating process that has severely undermined the credibility of the EU’s legislative process.

“We regret that the political agreement reached in December 2023 was not honoured”, said Meri Hyrske-Fischer, Human Rights Advisor at Fairtrade International. The directive will only apply to very large companies (moving from the 500 employees’ threshold to 1000; and from a €150 million turnover to €450 million). Additionally, the notion of high-risk sectors has been removed from the scope and concessions have been made on application times: Only large companies with more than 5000 employees and a turnover of more than €1500 million must start applying the provisions in 2027, followed by a staggered approach until 2029). “The people and planet deserve better and faster action from our leaders,” concludes Hyrske-Fischer.

Despite these drawbacks, after weeks of uncertainty and against the ticking clock, the COREPER outcome is better than leaving the meeting room without a deal.

The CSDDD provides certainty and sets expectations and requirements that are likely to become mandatory to a much larger group of companies in future. Also, it avoids the potential chaos of navigating a patchwork of national due diligence laws and establishes a common legal framework to level the playing field.

On a positive note, Fair Trade organisations commend the recognition of living income as a human right alongside living wage in the Appendix of the CSDDD, making it a right that companies directly covered by the directive must respect.

“We welcome that under the provisions of the directive, companies will have to evaluate and mitigate the impact of their purchasing practices on human rights and the environment and are expected to contribute to living wages and incomes for workers and farmers,” states May Hylander, Senior Policy Officer at the Fair Trade Advocacy Office. Additionally, the CSDDD emphasises shared responsibilities, concrete support to suppliers and meaningful stakeholder engagement with potentially affected rightsholders. “These are much needed elements that have the potential to repair unbalances in value chains and make them more sustainable,” she concludes.

Fairtrade International and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office encourage the European Parliament to support the compromise.

For more information, please contact May Hylander at



Brussels, 29 February 2024 – Farmers protesting in the streets for living incomes could easily join unite in solidarity with their counterparts in the Global South. One in three workers[i] are employed in agriculture in most developing countries and, despite common belief, they do not reap significant benefits from trading with the EU. Furthermore, they are now forced to abide by the rules contained in the European Green Deal, which are not only hard to implement, but also threaten their livelihoods. Beyond farming, the EU needs to reconsider how it supports North and South producers to achieve environmental, social and trade justice in the context of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Today, SOLIDAR, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO), Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) issued a powerful Call to Action to transform the European Green Deal into a Global Green Deal to make it more social, equitable, just and fair at the international level, and to recreate a common vision and commitment to its essential goals.

In its current form, the European Green Deal leads to environmentally and socially harmful impacts on the Global South and exacerbates, rather than eliminates, inequality and poverty. The Global Green Deal vision is of an inclusive European transformative agenda that firmly assumes its responsibilities vis-à-vis third and partner countries with regard to imposed externalities. The GGD is a Green Deal with an external dimension to guarantee a fair distribution of the transition costs between Europe and partner countries.

Today’s launch marks a pivotal moment in the discourse on adapting the EU flagship initiative to the social and political realities of a world in social and geopolitical turmoil. Low-income households and the disadvantaged were encouraged by populists to find fault with remedial environmental measures typified by the present European Green Deal. Setting this in a broader, global context and introducing aspects of fairness and justice will provide an antidote to the negative effects of populism and Euroscepticism. The GGD will also contribute to maintaining an international framework of law that is acceptable to all.

Professor Olivier De Schutter from UCLouvain and Sciences Po Paris lends his support to the initiative, which also received the generous contribution of the Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN). The Call To Action is the result of a year-long set of deliberations with like-minded organisations that have culminated in the event on “Just Transition for All: Why the European Green Deal needs to go Global” that was held at the European Economic and Social Committee on 23 January 2024.

The policy proposals contained in the Call To Action are available here.



Mikael Leyi, Secretary General, SOLIDAR: “The European Green Deal is definitely a major achievement for Europe, but it needs to be expanded and deepened through a strong external dimension to foster a Global Just Transition. We need a European society and a global order in which our needs do not threaten the needs of our neighbours. Where our needs do not destroy the planet.”

Sophie Aujean, Director of Global Advocacy, Fairtrade International: “No deal can really be called a Global Green Deal unless the very people who are most impacted – the climate-vulnerable small-scale farmers and workers in countries disadvantaged by unfair global trade structures – have an equal say in it. The Global green deal we’re calling for will enable a bold and fair transition in Europe and beyond”.

Eric Ponthieu, Strategy Director, Fair Trade Advocacy Office: “The European Green Deal has no future unless integrated with a binding set of Just Transition measures to support both EU and non-EU stakeholders. Public support across Europe for Fair Trade shows how this can be done, practically and effectively.”

Leida Rijnhout, Chief Executive, WFTO: “The EU Green Deal is not considering sufficiently what the impacts are for the Global South. Creating a green island is not what we want, and therefore the call for a Global Green Deal is necessary to guarantee that no harm is done to third countries and vulnerable groups like small scale farmers and small and medium enterprises”

Olivier de Schutter, Professor, UCLouvain & Sciences Po Paris: “The EU has pledged to align its external policies with the objectives of sustainable development: policy coherence for development now requires that it moves towards the Global Green Deal. This means reflecting it in its trade policies, and in the imposition on transnational corporations of human rights and environmental due diligence obligations in the vision of the Green Deal. This means placing globalisation at the service of the fight against poverty and climate mitigation, instead of allowing it to serve only to increase shareholder value.”


Press contact:

Fair Trade Advocacy Office
Eric Ponthieu
Strategic Director

Barbara Caracciolo
International Cooperation & Sustainable Development Coordinator

Fairtrade International
Rosamaria Mancini
Public Relations and Media Manager

World Fair Trade Organization
Leida Rijnhout

World Fair Trade Organization – Europe
Mikkel Kofod Nørgård
Regional Coordinator

A Just Transition for All: Why the European Green Deal needs to go Global?

Brussels, 22 January 2024 – Why do we need a Global Green Deal? What a Global Green Deal should look like? What are the pros and cons of transforming the European Green Deal (EGD) into a Global Green Deal to foster Just Transition worldwide?

These are some of the questions that will be discussed at the public event that SOLIDAR and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO), in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee, will host on Tuesday, 23rd January.

Policies formulated within the European Union have far-reaching consequences on third countries. Therefore, according to SOLIDAR and the FTAO, the internal and external facets of the Green Deal must be better integrated to prevent that the EU green transition occurs at the expense of workers and the environment at the global level. 

The European Green Deal (EGD) is definitely a major achievement for Europe. “Now, it needs to broaden and deepen with a strong external dimension to avoid any adverse impacts on partner countries and foster a Global Just Transition », said Mikael Leyi, SOLIDAR Secretary General. 

Marike de Peña, representing banana producers from Dominican Republic said “Smallholder farmers and workers are key actors in the green transition. Yet, they risk being left behind if their participation in the decision-making is not guaranteed and if public financial support is lacking”.

In line with the Policy Coherence for Development, the EU cannot afford to disregard the EGD’s impact on the Global South. EU Trade Policy can greatly contribute to promote social and environmental justice. Yet, more consistency is needed between the European Trade Policy, the EU development policy and the European Green Deal in line with the new approach to Trade and Sustainable Development and to the overarching principle of the Just Transition.said Tanja Buzek, Vice president of the EESC International Trade committee, member of Workers’ group.

SOLIDAR and the FTAO highlighted that only by turning global that the EU Green Deal will enable the EU to make further progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  

Eric Ponthieu, the FTAO’s Strategy Director, said: “The Fair Trade Movement can draw on decades of experience in establishing social and environmental justice through trade, both regionally and internationally. The next EU executive should promote Fair Trade and regenerative business models to enhance efficiency and public acceptability of the EU flagship climate policy”

The event will offer the opportunity to present and discuss the added value of transforming the European Green Deal into a Global Green Deal. 

SOLIDAR and the FTAO will keep working together with their respective networks, partners and allies to develop a common vision and realise a Global Green Deal that benefits people and the planet.

Press contact:

Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO)

Eric Ponthieu
Strategic Director


Barbara Caracciolo
International Cooperation and Sustainable Development Coordinator

Framework of Cooperation between Sri Lanka Export Development Board and International Fair Trade Networks

Colombo, 10 January 2024– Fair Trade Advocacy Office joins hands with Sri Lankan Export Development Board, Fairtrade NAPP, and WFTO Asia in historic Framework of Cooperation Agreement.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office is pleased to announce the signing of a groundbreaking Framework of Cooperation Agreement with the Sri Lankan Export Development Board, Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP), and the World Fair Trade Organization Asia (WFTO Asia). This historic collaboration aims to strengthen Fair Trade practices, foster sustainable development, and promote ethical trade in the region.

The signing ceremony, that took place on the 10th of January of 2024, marks a significant milestone in the commitment to advancing fair trade principles and supporting the economic empowerment of producers and workers. The partnership brings together key stakeholders in the Fair Trade ecosystem, uniting their efforts to create a more equitable and sustainable trading environment.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office, as a leading advocate for Fair Trade policies at the European Union level, is enthusiastic about the collaborative potential of this agreement. By joining forces with the Sri Lankan Export Development Board, Fairtrade NAPP, and WFTO Asia, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office aims to amplify its impact in promoting fair trade practices, advocating for policy changes, and supporting the growth of Fair Trade initiatives in the region.

We are excited to embark on this journey of collaboration with esteemed partners who share our dedication to Fair Trade principles. This Framework of Cooperation Agreement signifies our collective commitment to fostering sustainable development, empowering communities, and promoting fair and ethical trade practices in Sri Lanka and the EU,” said Virginia Enssle, International and Institutional Relations Manager at the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.

Download the Press Release here.​​

For more information, please contact Virginia Enssle at

EU Makes Due Diligence Mandatory: It is now time to make it meaningful

Brussels, 14 December 2023 Today marks a significant milestone as a political agreement was successfully concluded on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). This groundbreaking directive will require companies operating within the EU to undertake mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence throughout their value chains.

Just a few years ago, the prospect of mandatory due diligence legislation was merely a dream for most human rights defenders, civil society organisations, academics, and frontrunners companies. Now, this historic moment has arrived, marking 12 years since the approval of the voluntary guidelines for responsible businesses, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

We are happy that there will finally be a legal obligation for companies to do Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence in their value chains. If implemented in the right way, and despite big shortcomings, this directive has the potential to be a key step towards more fairness in global supply chains,”  said May Hylander, Policy and Project Officer at the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.

While the political deal reached represents a considerable step forward towards corporate accountability, it falls short in many aspects: it leaves out a big part of the financial sector, applies only to very large companies, and while it does include civil liability, it fails to reverse the burden of proof, making justice for victims of corporate abuse hard to access.

The original proposal from the European Commission and the General Approach by the Council of the EU opened the door to cascading responsibilities and associated costs in the supply chain. This would lead to counterproductive effects of the law by leaving suppliers even more vulnerable. By strengthening some important elements such as meaningful stakeholder engagement, responsible disengagement, and the obligation to address purchasing practices, the final agreement has taken some steps in the right direction to address this. In addition, both the right to a living income and a living wage must be recognized in the law.

The new text makes a considerable shift to effective and transformative due diligence, by taking a stronger stance on the need to meaningfully engage stakeholders in the process and by mandating that business only terminate business relationships responsibly and as a last resort. This will ensure that companies work on solutions with suppliers, rather than opting for a cut-and-run approach that doesn’t resolve the issues they find” said Catarina Vieira, EU Policy Advisor for Solidaridad.

Yet, this is just the beginning.

Each EU member state will have to transpose the directive, which is a tremendous opportunity to eliminate the loopholes of the directive and ensure alignment with the UNGPs.

The imperative next steps

Guidance is essential for effective implementation. The directive mandates the Commission to draft guidance on several due diligence aspects. In our view, this needs to be developed in a consultative manner and based on due diligence guidelines from the OECD, including their sector-specific guidance. It should provide clarity on meaningful stakeholder engagement, responsible disengagement, fair purchasing practices, and effective strategies for achieving living incomes and living wages.  In these guidance documents, the Commission should emphasise that contracts are just one instrument within a company’s due diligence toolbox. Instead of traditional top-down requirements, these should also be drafted in collaboration and dialogue between buyers and suppliers, with shared responsibility for the respect for human rights and the environment.

Accompanying measures are crucial. The EU and its member states must prioritise providing financial and technical support to rightsholders and their representatives, vulnerable economic actors in global value chains (including smallholders and artisans), and to EU partner countries. EU Delegations in partner countries play a pivotal role in this regard, as focal points and providers of support.

Accompanying measures are essential for the directive to be implemented in the best way: for all actors to have sufficient information, for rightsholders to be empowered to use it to address corporate misconduct, and for smaller suppliers in partner countries to be supported in implementing the changes that are needed,” said Meri Hyrske-Fischer, Human Rights Advisor at Fairtrade International.

Last but not least, the implementation must be ambitiously taken up by companies. They should take the lead in establishing due diligence processes that involve open dialogue with suppliers and other stakeholders, making genuine efforts to bridge living wage and living income gaps, and critically evaluating their business models and purchasing practices. In short, start taking co-responsibility and not externalising the risk management costs to their suppliers.

This political agreement is a milestone to make due diligence the norm in global value chains, potentially benefiting millions of rightsholders worldwide. However, achieving this requires full mobilization from the Commission, member states, and companies, as we anticipate a lengthy transposition and implementation process.” said Fanny Gauttier, EU Public Affairs Lead at the Rainforest Alliance.

Today signals a significant move toward corporate accountability and responsible business conduct. Now we call on the EU, member states and companies to use this momentum to drive the transformations that are needed to protect human rights and the environment around the world.

Download the Joint Press Release here.


Press contacts:

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

May Hylander

Policy and Project Officer


Rainforest Alliance

Darla van Hoorn

Manager Global Media Relations
+31 (0)6 20 09 13 12


Eoghan Hughes

PR Officer

+31 (0) 6 11 33 90 88

Fairtrade International

Meri Hyrske-Fischer

Human Rights Advisor,

+358 40 5959120 

The Fair Trade Movement calls for urgent rethink on climate action ahead of COP28

Brussels, 9 November 2023 – The  Fair Trade Movement today calls on governments, businesses and world leaders to scale up joint efforts and take bold, immediate, meaningful and inclusive climate action before it is too late.

With less than a month until the UN COP28 climate change conference in the United Arab Emirates, Fairtrade International, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) jointly demand that financial pledges to support countries and communities most exposed to climate risks are met.

Climate change has become impossible to ignore, and so is the fact that its impacts are unfair and unequal,” says Sophie Aujean, Global Advocacy Director at Fairtrade International. “Our general conclusion is one of frustration with our global political leaders. The Fair Trade Movement is shouldering its share of responsibility to build a better tomorrow with determination, but the future of our planet depends on all of us. Tackling the climate emergency requires a shared approach.”

The three organisations – who together represent more than two million farmers, producers, workers and artisans in SMEs and cooperatives across the globe – believe climate finance can play a meaningful role – but only if current shortcomings are adequately addressed.  “To create meaningful and lasting impact, climate justice must be the foundation of all climate action, but the window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing and must be seized now,” says Charlotte Vernier, the FTAO Senior Coordinator and lead on Climate Change and Deforestation.

The Fair Trade Movement identifies several areas for immediate improvement which, it says, will significantly help climate finance delivering on its objectives.

  • With adaptation finance flows running at five to 10 times below the estimated needs, prioritising actions that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and help communities adapt is becoming more urgent than ever.
  • Remaining structural barriers need to be addressed – producers – especially small-scale women farmers – must have access to financial products and services that are tailored to their needs to allow them to become more climate-resilient and transition to sustainable agriculture. This includes flexible repayment terms, lower interest rates, and simplified application processes.
  • Finally, the loss and damage fund agreed at COP27 must not get bogged down in endless discussions about who pays what. The most climate-vulnerable countries already suffer disproportionately for a climate catastrophe which is not of their making.

Climate finance plays an important role but is not a magic wand,” warns however Vernier. “A multi-dimensional approach is essential to fully understand, prevent and cope with the consequences of the climate crisis were facing.” The joint statement makes clear that to achieve a genuine transformation, global leaders urgently need to look at the bigger picture and concrete ways to support smallholders, small businesses and artisans to shift towards climate resilient practices.

There can be no climate justice without trade justice, and vice-versa,” says WFTO Chief Executive Leida Rijnhout. “Fair Trade Enterprises are leveraging the change we need to shift from an economic system that thrives on exploitative and extractivist practices to a fair one, both for people and the planet. Through their business model, they are proving that alternatives do exist: if we follow their example, we have a concrete chance at achieving sustainable development.”

The active participation of local stakeholders – including farmers, workers and communities – is essential for designing, prioritising, implementing and monitoring efficient climate tools. “Farmers and farming communities are best placed to identify specific challenges and solutions in their local context,” explains Juan-Pablo Solis, Senior Adviser on Climate and Environment at Fairtrade International. “Farmersexpertise and traditional knowledge are key – but the transition to agroecology is unaffordable for most farmers due to unfair market prices and power imbalances in supply chains.”

For emerging supply chain laws to be truly transformational, global leaders and policymakers therefore need to step up efforts to break down remaining silos and efficiently link measures to facilitate decarbonisation with a global fight against inequalities and poverty” concludes Vernier.

Download the full joint statement here and a three-page summary here. Fairtrade International, the FTAO and WFTO will be at COP28 to support producers, farmers and workers in their fight for climate justice. For more information about Fair Trade movement side events, participants and interview opportunities, please contact Juan Pablo Solis at


Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Charlotte Vernier

Senior Policy & Project Coordinator


Fairtrade International

Sophie Aujean

Director Global Advocacy


WFTO Europe

Mikkel Kofod Nørgård

Regional Coordinator





Include Social Aspects on Textile Labels: We respond to the new Textile Labelling Regulation


Update: For the EU consultation for the Labelling Regulation on 15 April, find FTAOs submission here.

Brussels, 28 September 2023 – The European Union is revising its rules on product labelling: what information should be included on garments and textiles. At present, this is limited to information on fabrics and care instructions. To improve working conditions for all workers in the supply chain, it is important to provide more information on the social side of the garment sector. Today, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) presents this position to the European Commission through a call for evidence. 

Until the 30th of September the European Commission opened a call for proposals. This legislative process is used to receive feedback on specific policies which will be used to update the policy, in this case the Textile Labelling Regulation. The FTAO argues that social information should be given on three different levels: country level, company level and information from the production sites. These three will be explained in more detail below. 

Human rights violations take place in the garment sector at a great scale: low wages, unpaid overtime, unsafe factories and (sexual) harassment, to name a few. One of the contributing factors to this is a lack of transparency. Consumers that want to make an informed choice and buy sustainable products have difficulty finding the right information. Workers that want to address problems don’t know who the buyer is and cannot reach them. Garment- and textile – labelling could help tackle this problem when used in the right way.  

How information should be presented 

It is important that the information is understandable and accessible to different stakeholders in garment supply chains, to consumers and for journalists to fact check information. Where possible, information should be provided on the label, detailed information could be provided through a QR code or other digital means. Information should be given for all tiers of the production process: from the raw material stage (cotton farms or other fibres), through the spinning-, weaving- and finally cut-make-trim (CMT) stage. 

Country specific information 

The country of origin can give some insights, as long as it is accompanied by specific information. This could be information on the minimum wage in a country and how this relates to a living wage. Ratified ILO- and UN conventions can also be informative, for example on migrant workers or supporting freedom of association. This does not mean that these problems will never arise, it is however an indication that there is an international system in place to address issues when they arise. How a country scores on the list on the ranking of trade union busting can also provide useful information. 

Company information: purchasing practices and complaints 

The purchasing practices of a company should be made clear as they can have a big influence on working conditions. Last-minute changes in delivery times or design could have significant repercussions for a factory: financially, if additional investments arise in the event of design changes, but also in terms of possible longer working hours, if delivery times are pushed forward. (Forced) unpaid overtime is not uncommon in these situations to compensate for the losses. A company should therefore pay a price that makes sustainable production and decent working conditions possible. To verify if this is the case, transparency is needed on the purchasing practices and contracts between the company and their supplier. If a company has a complaints mechanism, it should be clear what complaints they have received and how they responded to these cases. 

Working conditions and audits 

For the different stages of the production process, information should be provided on the average working hours, overtime (if present), health & safety conditions, committees that are active, real democratic trade unions present at the factory, collective bargaining agreements settled and information on types of employment contracts. Temporary contracts are common in the garment sector. This creates job insecurity for workers and influences other human rights. Some workers might not receive a new contract when they become pregnant or if they join a trade union. Farming raw materials such as cotton is often a seasonal job, making job security even lower. If these working conditions are verified by an auditing company, this information should be made public as well, in such a way that does not put workers or smallholder producers at risk.   

Aligning with other EU policies 

As a minimum we call for the Regulation to be in line with forthcoming Due Diligence legislation such as the CSRD and CSDDD (for example by including a link to the CSRD reporting on the company on/through the label). However, these directives have limits in terms of size of companies covered and type of information that are legally obliged to provide. In itself the Due Diligence legislation will not provide sufficient information for all pieces of garment for consumers to make an informed decision. Therefore, the information listed above should be added on/through the label.  

For any questions around our work on the Textile sector or Due Diligence legislation, please contact May Hylander at

More than 240 000 European citizens demand a Living Wage for the people who make our clothes around the world

Brussels, 20 July 2023 – The people who make our clothes cannot afford a sufficient and nutrient diet, to send their kids to school, to live in decent housing or to go to the doctor. This is because they earn on average 2 times less than a living wage: the salary needed to live in decent conditions. Yesterday at midnight, the Good Clothes, Fair Pay campaign, supported by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office along with many other organisations, came to an end, after having collected 240 180 signatures from EU citizens


240,180 EU citizens signed the Good Clothes, Fair Pay campaign, a European Citizens Initiative, asking the EU to adopt legislation that requires EU textile and garment companies to ensure that workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage.    

240,180 citizens demand fairer and more transparent supply chains and want brands to be held accountable when not respecting the rights of their workers. Citizens are also ready to change the way they consume but call for public policies that would make companies offer better products. A survey conducted in 2020 by Oney Group and OpinionWay in France, Spain, Portugal and Hungary, shows that 90% of European consumers are sensitive to sustainable consumption and expect brands to be committed and help them consume better. However, more than half of them do not believe the promises of brands concerning sustainability.  

Although the Good Clothes Fair Pay European Citizens’ Initiative did not reach the signature goal needed to demand an official response from the European Commission, the number of signatures confirms that the impact of the textile industry on the human rights of its workers is an issue which mobilises increasing public support. Up to recently, Living Wages for garment workers was rarely at the forefront of public conversation about the impact of the fashion industry, and was almost never included in public policies aiming at making the fashion sector more sustainable. 


A Living Wage and a Living Income is a human right and the EU needs to into account what workers and civil society, and now also more than 240 thousand citizens, are calling for and make way for a fairer fashion industry through both currently negotiated and potential EU-legislation: 

Through an ambitious EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. The EU is currently negotiating new legal obligations for the biggest companies on the EU market: they will have to identify, bring to an end, prevent, mitigate and account for negative human rights and environmental impacts in their value chains. Negotiations between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission are undergoing right now and key points will need to be addressed for the final text to be impactful for the people in textile supply chains:  

  • The final text needs to explicitly refer to both Living Wages for workers and Living Incomes for smallholders or self-employed producers, to ensure that both garment workers and cotton producers receive a fair remuneration allowing them to live in decent conditions.  
  • The Directive needs to explicitly require companies to assess the impact of their business model and their purchasing, trading and pricing practices on human rights and to take measures to prevent, mitigate and address the harm that they are causing.  
  • The text from the Commission created a Due Diligence obligation solely for the biggest companies. Around 99% of EU textile companies are SMEs and available research shows that smaller brands collectively represent a significant amount of the garment industry. Excluding them from the scope of Due Diligence obligations runs the risk of leaving many garment workers unprotected. The EU should at least follow the proposed scope by the Parliament that includes the most companies and aligns the scope with the sustainability reporting obligations under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.   
  • The Directive must make clear that engagement with stakeholders should be at the centre and done in a meaningful way at every step of the Due Diligence process in line with the OECD Guidelines.   

The coming months will be key for achieving an ambitious and impactful legislation. Join us to ask our governments and members of the European Parliament for a strong law – check out the Justice is Everybody’s Business Campaign and Action Toolkit!  

Towards the prohibition of Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the textile sector. The Good Clothes, Fair Pay campaign calls for the prohibition of Unfair Trading Practices which cause, or contribute to, harms to workers. These include, among others, payment delays, order cancellation and prices under the cost of production. As asked by the EU Parliament in its report of the Sustainable Textiles Strategy, the European Commission should introduce legislation to prohibit UTPs in the textile sector, similar to what was introduced for the agri-food sector in an EU Directive from 2019. Read more on how such a legislation could look here. 

By pushing for an enabling policy environment for Living Wages and Living Incomes. All governments committed to improve the textile sector should consider joining the Joint Declaration on Living Wage and Living Income signed by the Dutch, German, Belgian and Luxembourgish governments. They commit to collaborating to implement measures to integrate Living Incomes and Wages into their public policies on sustainable supply chains, at national and EU levels.   

For any questions around our work on Fair and Sustainable Textiles or Due Diligence legislation, please contact May Hylander at

Ecodesign Rules for Sustainable Products: European Parliament misses key chance to increase transparency on labour rights

Brussels, 12 July 2023 – The European Parliament adopted its position on the proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). The position is a good step towards more sustainable products. However, social aspects are not covered which is a huge missed opportunity for policy alignment with existing and upcoming Due Diligence legislation. 

The position adopted today by the European Parliament is their answer to the proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (hereafter the ‘Ecodesign Regulation´) that puts forward environmental performance requirements for several product categories. The proposed Ecodesign Regulation is building on previous legislation on energy-related products. With this proposed regulation, the scope of the products that are covered has been broadened: this is a very good step, as not only energy-related products need to be produced more sustainably. Especially welcome is the inclusion of the textile sector. One big improvement both by the Council in May 2023 and now today by the European Parliament is the inclusion of a ban on the destruction of unsold goods (starting with textiles and electronics). This is a long awaited and crucial first step in the right direction.  

The proposed Ecodesign Regulation also introduces a so-called Digital Product Passport. This tool will require companies to provide information to recycling facilities and consumers on aspects such as recyclability and environmental performance. Transparency on the social aspects in the production process, such as existence of unions, health & safety or information on wages, were not part of the framework by the Commission proposal, and the Parliament also regrettably failed to introduce it. This is especially problematic for the textile sector, which is known for its labour violations within its supply chains: long over hours, low wages and unsafe factories are well-known problems in the garment industry.

The products used in the European Union are produced by millions of workers worldwide, and therefore there is no way to speak about sustainable products without addressing their working conditions and human rights,” says May Hylander, Policy and Project Officer at the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO).  

Missed opportunity to align the Ecodesign Regulation with Due Diligence policies 

Under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), companies are required to report on their sustainability risks and activities to mitigate these. This will also be the reporting tool of the proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). The fact that the Ecodesign Regulation is not aligning with these other instruments that aim to regulate transparency and sustainability in global value chains is a real missed opportunity. Social aspects of the production process should have been part of the Digital Product Passport to make this information more accessible to workers, producers, consumers and civil society.  

The European Parliament also misses the chance to improve the rights of workers and producers by adopting a holistic approach to sustainability and include socially responsible public procurement and human rights standards the mandatory criteria for green public procurement (for example for textiles). Instead, they stayed with the limit to environmental criteria proposed by the European Commission. Finally, the FTAO welcomes that the European Parliament added thatNo later than 4 years after the date of application of this Regulation, the Commission shall consider the inclusion of social sustainability and due diligence requirements within the scope of this Regulation. Even if it is an important addition, it is too little too late, and the Commission must consider this inclusion as early as possible to not keep leaving out the people making the products. 

For any questions around our work on the Textile sector or Due Diligence legislation, please contact May Hylander at

We release the White Paper “Fair Thread: policy recommendations for a sustainable textile industry”

Brussels, 4 July 2023 – As part of the Small But Perfect (SBP) project, we release today the White Paper “Fair Thread: policy recommendations for a sustainable textile industry”. This White Paper, jointly written by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and Fashion Revolution, including a Needs Analysis of sustainable SMEs done by Bocconi University, aims to tackle inequalities stemming from the current fast fashion model.

It highlights 19 policy recommendations urgently needed to improve livelihoods of millions of workers and farmers in the value chains of EU textile companies and show how these policy changes can also be good for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). 

The White Paper is based on the outcomes of the SBP project. The input for the Paper is taken from two multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogues exploring enablers and blockers for a fair and sustainable textile sector well as thorough research and the learnings from the network of SMEs, business support organizations and policy makers created during the SBP project. 

The Paper covers the topics of:  

  • Sustainable Business Models  
  • Traceability and Transparency  
  • Living Wage and Living Income  
  • Unfair Trading Practices   
  • Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence  
  • Sustainable Public Procurement 


The White Paper picks up on the momentum at EU level to regulate the industry: last month, the European Parliament recently voted on their position regarding two important policy instruments for improving the fashion industry: the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) and the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textile. While this is very welcome  the CSDDD limits the scope to big brands with high turnover and therefore has small prospects of leading to real positive change in the textile and garment industry. At the core of the EU fashion industry – making up 98.8% of all EU fashion businesses in 2022 – are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are well placed to drive systemic industry change, and should not be left out of the policy conversation. It is also crucial to improve due diligence in the textile sector as particularly power imbalances between brands and their suppliers (often SMEs) lead to numerous human rights and environmental abuses.  

Garment brands hold buying power over their suppliers. If manufacturers do not agree to specific buying terms, then the brand can choose to switch suppliers at any moment(1). Brands and retailers use this buying power to unilaterally enforce unfavourable purchasing terms. These unfair trading practices (UTPs) include buying at prices below the cost of production, unilateral changes to agreed contracts, late changes in lead times, and cancelling (semi-)produced garments. Afraid to lose future orders, manufacturers tend to not address these (often) illegal practices and absorb the losses instead. This means the factory does not have enough financial space to invest in safe working conditions, sustainable production methods or living wages for its workers.  

At present, the vast majority of fashion brands cannot prove that they are paying their workers a living wage(2). Low wages force people to work excessive overtime to make a living. Working excessive hours in hazardous situations can lead to hand numbness, back problems and eye strain when sewing(3). Respiratory issues, skin disease, burns and even death can occur due to working with toxic chemicals(4). Some workers are forced to skip meals because they cannot afford food for their families(5).  

Voluntary initiatives by the industry, such as commercial audits or sustainability platforms, have not been able to fix problems like power imbalances, lack of transparency and dangerously low wages. Companies that do want to take responsibility and produce sustainably are faced with unfair competition from brands that do not consider the environment or human rights in their supply chain.  

SMEs are particularly exposed to these challenges, both as brands having to compete with big fast fashion companies, and as manufacturers being faced with Unfair Trading Practices from their buyers. These challenges have not been taken sufficiently into account in upcoming EU legislation  

In the SMEs Needs Analysis in the Annex it is described in more detail what regulatory changes SMEs need as well as how current legislative proposals should look to work for SMEs. In order to support European circular and sustainable SMEs in fashion, customised policies are necessary, as well as a customised approach in the implementation of regulations. As highlighted in the Annex, customised approaches could be related to availability of dedicated incentives, adapted timing of implementation depending on the company size, availability of dedicated training for reskilling and upskilling, availability of specific toolkits dedicated to SMEs to reduce complexity. 

Read the full paper here. 

For any questions around our work on the Textile sector or Due Diligence legislation, please contact May Hylander at  



  1. Out of the Shadows: a spotlight on exploitation in the fashion industry, Clean Clothes Campaign (2020), p. 3. 
  2. Tailored Wages: the state of play in the global garment industry, Clean Clothes Campaign (2019). 
  3. Annie Delaney, Rosaria Burchielli and Tim Connor, Positioning women homeworkers in a global footwear production network: how can homeworkers improve agency, influence and claim rights? (2015) 57:4 Journal of Industrial Relations 641. 
  4. Petr Bengsten and Danwatch, Toxic chemicals used for leather production poisoning India’s tannery workers, The Ecologist (2012). Available at: 
  5. Penelope Kyritsis, Genevieve LeBaron and Scott Nova, Hunger in the Apparel Supply Chain: Survey findings on workers’ access to nutrition during Covid-19, Worker Rights Consortium (2021).