New EU Trade Policy, fair enough?
Brussels, 18 February 2021 – Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission has unveiled today the new EU Trade Policy, which builds on three main pillars: openness, sustainability and assertiveness. The Fair Trade movement welcomes the commitment to “promote value chains that are circular, responsible and sustainable” but regrets the lack of concrete proposals to make this happen.
Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, has presented today the Communication on the Trade Policy Review – An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy.
The Fair Trade movement regrets that the Strategy focuses on creating “fair competition” between EU companies and non-EU ones, ignoring the need to also be ¨assertive¨ in addressing the need for a fair share of value along supply chains.
Sergi Corbalán, executive director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) noted with concern that “the strategy includes no single specific measure to ensure that trade works for small farmers and business models that put people and planet before short-term gains”.
The Fair Trade movement regrets that the Communication does not build on innovations introduced by the “Trade for All” Strategy of 2015, such as the Fair and Ethical Trade City Award.
“If the European Union is serious about the European Green Deal and Paris Agreement, it is essential to unlock the power of consumers, municipalities, schools, universities, and civil society in promoting more sustainable value chains and fairer trade, in particular for the most disadvantaged, a step at a time”, Sergi Corbalán concluded.
Beyond the policy´s shortcomings, the Fair Trade movement welcomes the respect of the Paris Agreement becoming an essential element in all future trade agreements. Equally important is the reference to the Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative. The upcoming Commission legislative proposal should be shaped to ensure that it will eventually result in improved purchasing practices and prices that enable living incomes and wages for small farmers, artisans and workers in value chains.
While the ambition to exclude products linked to forced labor from the value chains of European companies is a noble objective, the Communication does not recognize that the root causes of forced and child labour is, most cases, poverty, often caused by low wages and prices paid by European companies to their suppliers.
The Fair Trade movement looks forward to actively contributing to the review of the 15-point Action plan on the effective implementation and enforcement of Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters in Trade Agreements.
The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization-Global and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe.
Sergi Corbalán (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fair Trade Advocacy Office
Village Partenaire – bureau 1 | 15 rue Fernand Bernier | 1060 Brussels – Belgium