Fairtrade: a lot done, more to do
27 March 2019
It was fitting that the final gathering of the Fair Trade Working Group coincided with the launch of the EU Fairtrade Advocacy Office (FTAO) report on upscaling Fairtrade across Europe. When I set up the Fair Trade Working Group (FTWG) some 15 years ago, getting Fairtrade on anyone´s radar was challenging. However, working with cross-party MEPs, the FTAO, the Commission and dedicated activists we have seen some amazing successes.
Our first project when we set up our FTWG was to make Fairtrade visible in our own buildings, by switching to Fairtrade tea and coffee. But we went on to develop budget lines to support fairtrade projects and introduce laws to support fairer and more ethical trade. In this last parliamentary mandate, we have introduced a groundbreaking law to ensure mining companies track and trace where their minerals come from and just last week we backed a new law on unfair trading practices which will stop supermarkets in the EU from pushing unfair promotional costs onto farmers both at home and in the global south.
2018 saw a real step forward with the launch of the Fairtrade Cities Awards to recognise the work of Fairtrade towns and cities across the EU. And at the annual Fairtrade Breakfast, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström announced a new initiative to map out ways products more sustainable. Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for Development has also commissioned a study to investigate next steps towards a more sustainable and fairer garment industry. But it is not just in the EU institutions in Brussels that Fairtrade is gaining more support. It has been very encouraging to hear from EU Ambassadors on how they are incorporating Fairtrade into the work of EU representation offices around the world, supporting projects for Fairtrade producers in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Looking to the future, there is still is a lot of work to do in Fairtrade. We are working for a new law to introduce due diligence in supply chains and to encourage more responsible business practices. Serious work is being done on the cocoa supply chain at EU level- something large chocolate companies are now also supporting. Closer to home, Brexit is causing a great deal of uncertainty for Fairtrade producers- particularly for banana farmers, but the U.K. Fairtrade movement is working to highlight the problems and help minimise any Brexit impacts.
Fairtrade has the power to transform the lives of producers and their communities. It gives farmers a fair price for their produce and allows them to put food on the table for their families, keep their children in school and access healthcare. It is a cause worth fighting for. So, I wish colleagues who are returning to the next parliament the best of luck in continuing the vital work to support the Fairtrade movement. And I will continue to support them in any way I can. Thanks to everyone for all your support.