Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis

Speech and announcement at EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award ceremony

Brussels, 16 October 2020

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to take part in this important ceremony.

First I would like to thank the International Trade Centre for the great cooperation that has made this Award possible.

Let me also thank the city of Ghent – the winner of the first edition – for hosting us today, and for its active role as an Ambassador for the Award.

Ghent won the title “…because of the city government's demonstrable commitment to putting ideas into practice, a packed program of events, and its impressive pedigree as Belgium's first Fair Trade City”.

The prize was funding for a cooperation project between a European Union city and a partner city outside the EU.

The City of Ghent chose to cooperate with Sahnewal in India.

You will hear more about this project later.

The “EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade" award was established to recognise and support local initiatives. We wanted to encourage future efforts in sustainability by cities in promoting fair trade.

In 2018 our first Network of Fair and Ethical Trade EU Cities was set up to share ideas and promote some of the fantastic initiatives that are already happening across Europe.

This has been a great success.

It is easy to understand why local and regional authorities can make a real difference. Local representatives are pragmatic and practical. They think about how to improve real things for people by making thousands of small changes, implemented on a daily basis.

European cities are taking the lead when it comes to changing consumer behaviour, informing people, and promoting fair and ethical trade.

This is even more true in the context of the COVID 19 crisis.

During this pandemic, local and regional authorities have provided emergency services, communicated on how to contain the spread of the virus, coordinated efforts, and mitigated the impact on economies.

I am very pleased that a number of cities still managed to keep sustainability at the heart of their activities, and took the time to apply for the Award even during these challenging times.

We received applications from all across Europe and we are very happy that cities in Poland, Romania and Italy joined the application process for the first time.   

It has been truly inspiring to see what cities around Europe are doing to promote fair and ethical trade.

We have seen cities with long histories of promoting fair and ethical trade, and other cities that are new to the game.

Some of the most interesting and important projects have centred around public procurement. When a city makes its policy fair and ethical for sourcing products, this sends a strong message for businesses to meet that goal.

But the impact goes beyond those involved in the transaction. It also makes a statement about a city's values.

This year many projects focused on community engagement and education. Projects varied from Fair trade expos to the development of educational materials on global learning, social justice, and Fair Trade.

As I learned about these projects, I was consistently impressed by the political commitment, detail and creativity involved.

As I said earlier, we are building a network of cities, working together to achieve our long-term goal.

Bremen, Gothenburg, Jelenia Góra, Neumarkt, and Stuttgart will join this network of cities going forward.

Open global trade is not a given anymore. The dangers of protectionism and closing up are never far away. We need to remind and persuade people of the opportunities that come from fair and ethical trade.

A progressive and inclusive trade policy is a very important first step– but concrete actions by local authorities and active citizens is how change starts on the ground.

That change is already happening and with this in mind, let me thank all of our applicant cities for your hard work.

Your efforts are a crucial step in ensuring that trade works for us all.

So to conclude, thank you, and best of luck to you all!

{Announcement of the winner 2020}  

First, let me acknowledge the quality of applications during this year.

The amount of work that cities have put into their applications is very impressive, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

The quality of the applications has made our Jury decision particularly difficult, both for selecting a winner and for special mentions. But in the end, we managed to find some particularly outstanding candidates.

An integral part of driving the change towards more sustainable consumption and production, is to focus on the promotion of fair and ethical trade.

This year’s winner has succeeded in doing this for many years on end, holistically engaging its multicultural community of consumers, businesses and civil society.

Thanks to this city’s international ties, innovative procurement policies, multiple events and platforms – it has helped to create a vibrant ecosystem where it is easy for everyone to do the right thing.

So, ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to announce that winner of the 2020 “EU City for Fair and Ethical Trade” is Malmo in Sweden.