Informal cocoa coalition calls on EU to establish partnership agreements with key cocoa exporting countries

Thursday, 24 June 2021

We, a group of companies (Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle, Tony’s Chocolonely, Unilever), certification organisations (Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance), NGOs (Fair Trade Advocacy Office, VOICE Network) and multi-stakeholder organisations (International Cocoa Initiative), call on the European Commission to pursue the establishment of bilateral agreements between the European Union and cocoa-producing countries to contribute to establishing a fully sustainable cocoa supply chain, complementing other policy frameworks such as the upcoming Sustainable Corporate Governance Directive and Deforestation Regulation.

We believe that a combination of policy measures is needed for cocoa-farming households to earn a living income, to reduce and eventually eliminate human rights abuses, including child labour, and to put an end to environmental degradation. While the two new legislative proposals will create an obligation for companies to address these issues in their value chains, these efforts must be supported by the right enabling environment, addressing the root causes of the prevalent human rights and environmental issues in the cocoa sector.

To this end, we believe that it is essential for the EU to pursue the establishment of long-term partnership agreements with the governments of cocoa-producing countries, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved, including local community representatives, farmers, industry, and civil society. These partnership agreements should include time-bound frameworks for action for all parties involved.

In 2019, we called on the EU to take action in two respects: to develop mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, and to negotiate bilateral partnership agreements with cocoa origin governments. We welcome the progress the European Commission has made to date in developing proposals for due diligence legislation, and we hope that proposals will be submitted in the course of the year, thus allowing for proper continuation of the process and harmonisation across the EU. At the same time, we stress the importance of developing partnership agreements in parallel to this regulatory framework.

We welcome the efforts made by the European Commission so far in promoting responsible business conduct and sustainable cocoa, including through establishing the EU multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable cocoa both at EU and at national level in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. As the first round of these dialogues are coming to an end, we call on the Commission to consider the negotiation of specific partnership agreements as a logical and necessary next step.

Our joint position paper outlining the importance and potential contents of such partnership agreements is available here, and is summarised below.

We look forward pursuing an effective dialogue with EU and national authorities as well as other stakeholders in the cocoa sector. We invite others to endorse our joint position paper.

Enquiries should be addressed to: Paolo Giro,

Joint position paper on partnership agreements for cocoa: summary

All signatories to this position paper aim to achieve a fully sustainable cocoa sector.

A crucial element of an EU strategy to achieve this aim is the introduction of two new legislative instruments: a directive on human rights and environmental due diligence and a regulation to ensure imported products have not caused deforestation. This legislation would help to create frameworks for responsible business conduct and the sustainable and responsible consumption of cocoa and derived products within the EU, the world’s largest consumer of cocoa and chocolate.

At the same time, we believe that the effectiveness of such due diligence legislation will also depend on the creation of a supportive enabling environment in origin countries.

We believe that a critical means of delivering such a supportive environment is through the establishment of long-term partnership agreements with the governments of cocoa-producing countries, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved, including local community representatives, industry and civil society.

These partnership agreements should set out clear and time-bound frameworks for action and measures that need to be taken by all concerned parties. They should place a particular emphasis on actions at the policy level by producer governments, and include technical and financial support mechanisms from the EU and its member states to ensure that the necessary actions can be implemented successfully.

Accordingly, we call for partnership agreements between the EU and the governments of cocoa-producing countries that establish clear responsibilities for each partner. Their aim should be to:

  1. Clarify what is needed to establish a sustainable cocoa sector within the producer-country partner and what different actors in the supply chain need to do to achieve it (which should also feed into sector-specific guidelines for due diligence legislation).
  2. Set out the policy changes, and/or improved enforcement of existing policies, that would be needed to produce cocoa sustainably.
  3. Put in place incentive and support mechanisms, including funding and capacity-building, to ensure that the required policy changes and measures are implemented.
  4. Establish monitoring systems to assess the impacts of the policy changes and measures and ensure that any unintended negative consequences for people or the environment are avoided.for people or the environment are avoided.