The German government’s call for European ‘binding regulations’ to set a standard for sustainably-produced cocoa has met with disappointment by environmental campaigners.
“Germany, France and Belgium have now joined major chocolate companies in calling for legally-binding measures, after almost two decades of failed voluntary action in the cocoa sector," said Julia Christian, forests campaigner at Fern, an international NGO that monitors deforestation.
“Germany is the EU’s largest chocolate consumer, so its pro-regulation stance piles even more pressure on the European Commission to end the EU’s complicity in the human suffering and environmental destruction caused by the cocoa industry.
The call was made as part of a national 10-point Action Plan for cocoa, launched on January 23 by German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner and development minister Gerd Mueller. The Plan sets out how the German government plans to address what Fern describes as ‘rampant deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector’. It also proposes to train farmers in sustainable cocoa production and strengthen the role of women in the cocoa sector.
“Europeans consume the majority of the world’s cocoa, so we are very much responsible for the nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, as well as the near-total destruction of forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana,” said Christian.
“It is really disappointing that, after years of attention on this issue, the European Commission has still not included regulatory options in its open consultation on ‘Stepping up EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation’. It is hard to imagine how a restatement of existing initiatives, as recent communications from the Commission seem to suggest, amount to ‘stepping up action’, nor how this would contribute in any meaningful way to the EU’s target to halve global deforestation by next year (2020)- which is looking less and less likely to be met.”