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Parliamentary questions
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9 July 2018
Question for written answer E-003733-18
to the Commission
Rule 130
Ignazio Corrao (EFDD) , Isabella Adinolfi (EFDD) , Laura Agea (EFDD) , Daniela Aiuto (EFDD) , Zoltán Balczó (NI) , Tiziana Beghin (EFDD) , Monika Beňová (S&D) , Nessa Childers (S&D) , Thierry Cornillet (ALDE) , Georgios Epitideios (NI) , Eleonora Evi (EFDD) , José Inácio Faria (PPE) , Ana Gomes (S&D) , Diane James (NI) , Béla Kovács (NI) , Merja Kyllönen (GUE/NGL) , António Marinho e Pinto (ALDE) , Costas Mavrides (S&D) , Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL) , Molly Scott Cato (Verts/ALE) , Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D) , Marco Valli (EFDD) , Hilde Vautmans (ALDE) , Udo Voigt (NI) , Julie Ward (S&D) , Maria Gabriela Zoană (S&D)

 Subject:  The real benefit of ethical certifications in tea and cocoa industries: the need for an informed choice for EU consumers
 Answer in writing 

In 2015 and 2016, the BBC reported(1) labour abuses, child labour and the use of hazardous chemicals in tea sold in the EU under different ethical certifications, including RainForest.

In May 2018 a study by Professor Genevieve LeBaron of the University of Sheffield(2) found that prominent ethical certification schemes, including Fairtrade, are failing to create working environments that are free from exploitation and forced labour.

The on-the-ground research found that in the cocoa and tea industries agricultural workers are paid severely low wages, while ethical standards are routinely violated by employers.

In addition, Professor LeBaron stated that ‘some of the worst cases of exploitation […] occurred on ethically certified plantations’, and that ethical certification and audit regimes actually reinforce endemic problems in supply chains(3).

In the light of the above, and with the current EU grant benefiting ethical certifications:

Is the Commission aware of how many actual instances of exploitation and forced labour, including child labour, are occurring in ethically certified tea and cocoa plantations?

Can the Commission clarify the total amount funded to ethical certifications through its various instruments over the last five years?

What action will the Commission take to ensure that tea and cocoa products marketed as ‘ethically certified’ have not been produced by forced labour, so as to guarantee an informed choice for EU consumers?


(1)http://bbc.in/1O1YPdS & https://bbc.in/2LmT8Ka
(2)Genevieve LeBaron (2018), The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings. Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) & The University of Sheffield. Available online: http://globalbusinessofforcedlabour.ac.uk/report
(3)Genevieve LeBaron & Jane Lister (2016), Ethical Audits and the Supply Chains of Global Corporations. Sheffield: SPERI. Available online: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Global-Brief-1-Ethical-Audits-and-the-Supply-Chains-of-Global-Corporations.pdf
(4)This question is supported by Members other than the authors: Dario Tamburrano (EFDD), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD).

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