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EuroCommerce feedback accompanying the answers to the questionnaire of the public consultation on the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles

In the new Circular Economy Action Plan the Commission announced that a dedicated EU strategy for textiles is planned for 2021. We welcome that the Commission is working on a comprehensive strategy dedicated to all textiles and EuroCommerce would like to express that our sector wants to be part of the future dialogue towards a systematic and positive change in the textile ecosystem. We encourage the EU Commission to continue the closest collaboration with retailers and wholesalers in the further materialization of the EU Strategy for Textiles as clarified in the roadmap.  

As described in the Commission’s Annual Single Market Report 2021 from May 2021, that accompanied the update to the 2020 EU Industrial Strategy, the Retail Ecosystem and the Textile Ecosystem are two separate, but linked industrial ecosystems, because textile retail is one of the biggest subcategories of retailers and the shutdown of retail outlets also impacted the textile producers. Therefore, the Commission needs to differ between retailers and wholesalers and producers within the EU Textile Strategy, because not all retailers and wholesalers have a direct influence of how the products they sell are produced. This distinction is often missing in the questionnaire and should be taken into account in the final strategy.   

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current socio-economic context this initiative is needed more than ever. With the closure of non-essential retail, the very low in footfall in town centres, and the dramatic loss of consumer confidence, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe economic impact on the whole textile and fashion supply chain.

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Fit for 55 – retail and wholesale in the vanguard of promoting sustainability

Retailers and wholesalers across Europe are already working hard to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking today, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Our sector has been active for many years in seeking to reduce its impact on the environment, promoting sustainability in its supply chain, its own operations, and with customers. We therefore support the Commission’s Fit for 55 package as a concrete set of measures to meet the Green Deal target of a 55% reduction in EU emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030. We share, however, other sectors’ concerns that the carbon border adjustment mechanism should be designed to be compatible with WTO rules and avoid new areas of dispute with trading partners.”

Retailers and wholesalers have shown that they take sustainability and climate change seriously, setting clear and measurable targets to reduce the impact of their operations and the products they sell. Our companies have also been proactive in setting clear targets for becoming carbon neutral, and in the transition to sustainable transport and increased energy efficiency. They are installing new refrigeration equipment, charging stations in their supermarket car parks, and using more renewable energy. They are continuously improving the environmental performance and driving eco-design of their products.

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Retailers and wholesalers working for sustainable food supply chain

As MEPs discuss the European Parliament’s report on the Farm-to-Fork strategy, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Retailers and wholesalers have a strong interest in working to meet consumer demand for sustainably produced food.  As responsible actors playing a central role in the supply chain, we seek to cooperate with all our suppliers to deliver on our shared commitment to sustainability. We therefore support the Farm-to-Fork strategy’s overall objectives and will work to make our contribution to sustainable food systems which benefit consumers and the rest of the supply chain.”

EuroCommerce and many of its members signed up to the Farm-to-Fork Code of Conduct, confirming our commitment to work on responsible food business and marketing practices.  Our members already have in place a wide range of initiatives promoting more sustainable options, including guaranteed orders for farmers during the transition to organic. By providing the possibility of selling larger volumes, our sector is helping to reward farmers adopting sustainable practices and allowing a wider range of consumers access to more sustainable food at affordable prices.

Our sector wants Farm-to-Fork to achieve its ambitious objectives, and in a way in which all players can benefit, from farmers to the final consumer.  No one part of the supply chain can do so on its own, and we will be asking the Commission to collaborate with all parties to build cooperative and effective dialogue, but also to adopt practical approaches which are transparent about the impact of the policies and ensure that they work with the grain of the market and consumer interests.

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