In a joint statement released to the media, the coalition has urged any new bilateral agreements to complement other EU policy frameworks such as the upcoming Sustainable Corporate Governance Directive and Deforestation Regulation.
The group includes chocolate companies Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle, Tony’s Chocolonely and Unilever, along with certification organisations; Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance; and NGOs; Fair Trade Advocacy Office, VOICE Network and the International Cocoa Initiative.
“We believe that a combination of policy measures is needed for cocoa-farming households to earn a living income, to reduce and eventually eliminate human rights abuses, including child labour, and to put an end to environmental degradation. While the two new legislative proposals will create an obligation for companies to address these issues in their value chains, these efforts must be supported by the right enabling environment, addressing the root causes of the prevalent human rights and environmental issues in the cocoa sector,” it stated.
The coalition said they believe it is essential for the EU to pursue the establishment of long-term partnership agreements with the governments of cocoa-producing countries, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved, including local community representatives, farmers, industry, and civil society. These partnership agreements should include time-bound frameworks for action for all parties involved.
“In 2019, we called on the EU to take action in two respects: to develop mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, and to negotiate bilateral partnership agreements with cocoa origin governments. We welcome the progress the European Commission has made to date in developing proposals for due diligence legislation, and we hope that proposals will be submitted in the course of the year, thus allowing for proper continuation of the process and harmonisation across the EU. At the same time, we stress the importance of developing partnership agreements in parallel to this regulatory framework,” the statement said.
- The joint position paper outlining the importance and potential contents of such partnership agreements is available here.