In the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (15 January) David Martin, Scotland’s senior MEP, along with his fellow Labour MEPs, voted for new public procurement rules that will make it easier for public authorities to buy Fair Trade produce.
Speaking after the vote Mr Martin who is the European Parliamentary Labour Party’s spokesperson on trade and a member of the European Parliament Fair Trade Working Group said:
"It is a pleasure to celebrate this achievement for Fair Trade and for fairer public procurement laws. These new laws will give a renewed boost to local authorities to choose Fair Trade.
“Scotland should be very proud of its Fair Trade record. Last year it qualified in joining Wales to become one of the world’s only two ‘Fairtrade Nations’. To achieve this it was necessary for at least 55% of all towns to have, or to be actively working towards Fair Trade status and at least 75% of the population having heard of Fair Trade, or knowing what its objectives are”, enthused Mr Martin.
"With today’s positive step, I hope to see even more Fair Trade products in Scotland going even further towards tackling poverty."
In the past, complex rules and legal challenges have hampered some public authorities from opting for a Fair Trade purchasing policy in their contracts. In the Netherlands, for example, a coffee company challenged one local authority in the courts because they had a Fair Trade tea and coffee policy.
The new rules will apply right across Europe and allow a wider range of social and environmental considerations to be taken into account, meaning public authorities can opt for Fair Trade products.
“Now we can look to Scotland’s proud record gaining ground throughout the rest of the EU”.
Compliance with environmental, social and labour obligations are now enshrined in the principles of procurement law, meaning potential suppliers can be excluded if they fail to comply with sustainability standards or are found to be treating workers unfairly.