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Study finds that sustainable sourcing is at the core of EU business considerations

Sustainable development | Brussels, 24 MAy 2019

98.5% of retailers interviewed in five EU Member States consider sustainability as a factor in product sourcing, according to a report by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The findings further reinforce the importance of including sustainable development in the EU’s trade policy.

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and International Trade Centre Executive Director Arancha Gonzáles are hosting an event today to present a study carried out by the ITC entitled "The European Union Market for Sustainable Products".

The study reveals that retailers are increasingly working in partnership with suppliers – both inside and outside the European Union – to introduce environmental and social standards in their supply chains. 96% of retailers interviewed implement sustainable sourcing strategies and 76% have undertaken public commitments on sustainable sourcing. The results are based on surveys of some 1800 retailers in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “In the EU we have put sustainability at the heart of our trade policy. This study shows that this was the right decision. Consumers increasingly care about where their products come from, and how they were made – they want to know that when they buy something, that the climate and workers’ rights have been respected. The good news is that retailers are beginning to respond. Today’s findings emphasise that we all have a role to play, as citizens, consumers, workers or entrepreneurs, in promoting open, fair and ethical trade.”

Sustainability has been a guiding principle for EU trade policy during this Commission. The EU uses trade to promote social justice, respect for human rights, workers’ rights and high environmental standards. For example, all comprehensive EU trade agreements since 2011 include a trade and sustainable development chapter, with the means to enforce it and a commitment to public scrutiny.

Commissioner Malmström is also hosting a Civil Society Dialogue today to update all interested stakeholders about current trade policy issues. These dialogues highlight the EU’s commitment to transparency with regard to trade policy. In the last five years, some 130 meetings have been organised with representatives of non-governmental organisations, trade unions, business organisations and other groups. In addition, the Commission has published some 6000 trade policy related documents in the same period, making EU trade policy one of the most transparent in the world.

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