European Commission’s “modern” proposal on trade and development is the same old story

27 January 2012 (Brussels) – Today the European Commission (EC) published its new EU trade and development plan. While welcoming the commitments to support small producers and fair, organic and ethical trade initiatives, the Fair Trade movement regrets the lack of commitment to mainstream Fair Trade principles across EU policies.

The Communication on “Trade, Growth and Development” aims to “modernise” the existing EU trade and development policy, dating back from 2002. However, the resulting policy is a continuation of the “business as usual” trade policy, sugarcoated with development aid to help to “swallow the pill” of the EU trade liberalisation agenda.

The Fair Trade movement welcomes the proposal’s recognition of the need to support small producers but the bulk of the plan is more about how aid will support EU business interests than about how trade policy will support development. Fair Trade Advocacy Office Executive Director Sergi Corbalán stated “Business as usual gets all the cake, development only gets the icing.”

The Fair Trade movement is also concerned about the increasingly less favourable trading conditions offered by the EU to Middle Income Countries, where approximately three-quarters of the world’s poorest 1.3 billion people live.

The document ignores many important EU policies that have an impact on trade, such as the upcoming EC initiative to restrict the market access of non-EU countries to the EU public procurement markets or the on-going reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. “We welcome the support to fair, organic and ethical trade initiatives but these do not compensate for the negative impact of numerous EU policies on marginalised producers and workers in the South.” Corbalán concluded.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office speaks out for Fair Trade and trade justice with the aim to improve trading conditions for the benefit of small and marginalised producers and poor workers in developing countries. Based in Brussels, the office coordinates the advocacy activities of the main Fair Trade Networks: Fairtrade International (FLO), World Fair Trade Organization-Europe (WFTO-Europe), and European Fair Trade Association (EFTA). These three networks bring together over 2 million Fair Trade producers from more than 60 countries, 24 labelling initiatives, hundreds of specialized Fair Trade importers, over 3000 Worldshops and more than 100,000 volunteers.

Contact: Sergi Corbalán. Fair Trade Advocacy Office. Rue Fernand Bernierstraat 15 – 1060 Brussels – Belgium. Tel: +32 (0) 2 543 19 23. Email: corbalan[at]

Download the press release as PDF.

Notes to Editors:

1. To read the Communication click here, to read the Commission’s staff working document click here.
2. The Communication will now be discussed in the Council and the European Parliament. Trade Council Conclusions are expected by 16 March 2012.

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