Fair Trade in the European Union: Regulatory and institutional aspects
Title: Fair Trade in the European Union: Regulatory and institutional aspects
Citation: Brigitte GRANVILLE and Janet DINE (eds), The Processes and Practices of Fair Trade: Trust, ethics and governance, London, Routledge, 2012, 122-196
This chapter establishes the current regulatory and institutional framework for fair trade in the European Union, both in some of its Member States (part I) and at the level of the EU itself (part II). Enquiring into how fair trade products are marketed, regulated and indeed promoted in the EU is of interest from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Key stages in the development of the international fair trade movement throughout the 1970s-1990s occurred on EU territory, and particularly in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and the majority of EU Member States have presently well-consolidated fair trade structures. In addition, and plausibly as a consequence, the EU (taken as a single customs territory) has long been the biggest market for fair trade products. Although fair trade was born as, and remains to date, a voluntary and private-based initiative, there has been over the past decade an increasing interest on the part of some EU Member States and EU institutions to support such a phenomenon through a variety of means, ranging from policy statements to concrete funding and procurement actions, and even the possible adoption of specific legislation or laws on fair trade. In part I of the chapter, we will consider how various private organisations determine through standard-setting and monitoring mechanisms the marketing of fair trade products in selected EU Member States, as well as the different approaches taken by public authorities in these countries towards promoting and regulating fair trade. Against this backdrop of national fair trade organisational structures and regulatory experiences, we will turn in part II of chapter to the involvement of the EU itself in fair trade issues. We will first explore the legal and policy framework underpinning EU action in this domain and then concrete measures taken by the EU to support fair trade (or its underlying principles) in a number of different policy fields, including notably external trade policy that is an exclusive competence of the Union. The chapter will conclude with an assessment of the desirability and feasibility of adopting a regulatory system for fair trade at EU level.
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