MANIFESTO - FAIR & SQUARE - Fairtrade made in Europe
Sint-Martens-Latem, 19 June 2006.
"Fair and Square - Made in Europe" is our manifesto we have written to justify our commercial engagement to sell and promote goods exclusively produced locally, nationally and in Europe. Fair & Square aims to raise awareness, among producers, consumers and policy makers, of the importance of fair trade and locally sourced products - Made in Europe. The Fair and Square manifesto draws attention to European values such as ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY, HEALTHY PRODUCTION METHODS and SOCIAL SECURITY, thus contributing to a more humane world.
1.European products are produced in an ecologically responsible way
Local European producers are held to some of the most stringent measures in the world. The vast body of strict environmental legislation serves a very important purpose: to keep our environment free from dangerous pollutants that not only jeopardize our health, but also the ecosystem we need to thrive. Europe is only now beginning to fully understand the consequences of the historical pollution. But some of the efforts by European producers are already resulting in considerable improvements on our environment. In many fast growing economies, on the contrary, the environment is hardly a concern for producers, multinationals and policy makers. The lack of attention for these concerns may seem like a competitive advantage now, but it will prove to be very costly later on.
2.European governments and NGO’s safeguard the health of workers and consumers.
European producers are required to set up very strict controls on product safety to limit the risk on work-related disease, accidents, intoxication and allergic reactions. Imported goods go virtually unchecked at the borders, while their countries of origin are often known for their lack of concern for safety procedures and workers’ health. Fair and Square demands that the same rules and controls apply to all products entering the European market. It is crucial to control all goods arriving from outside the Union and if they don’t meet European standards, these goods should be stopped at our borders.
3.European products are made in a socially responsible way, providing social security for all
Every European employee gets a fair wage for his/her work. These wages include the social benefits that have been part of our socio-economic model for over a century. The price for this social security is reflected in the price of European goods. This helps pay for pensions, health care, education and so on.
A lot of labor-intensive production processes are being outsourced to low-wage countries, without taking into account the effects on the European social programs. On the other hand, we see reports on the precarious existence of the foreign people who produce our goods for a pittance, often living in prison-style barracks and lacking even the most basic services and needs. The profits that are made on the imported goods are not going back to the communities that produced them. So, not only do we have to ask ourselves the question: “who will pay for our health-care?”, but also: “how can we help them improve their own lives?”
We do know that “cheap” goods come at an incredibly high price for our economy and our way of life. “Cheap” is never the answer! Social security, whether guaranteed by the government or paid for by individuals, has its price.
The message that Fair and Square wants to convey is this: Ecologic sustainability, healthy produce and social security are expensive values. The cost of these values is reflected in the price of the European goods we purchase and consume. It is, however, not included in the price of most imported goods. Fair and Square believes that abandoning these values will come at tremendous financial and human costs. Not only for ourselves, but also for our children and grandchildren. Not only for Europe, but also for the rest of the world.
However, Fair and Square does call for consuming European products. We do ask you to ask yourself what you really want. We ask you to make a decision and a commitment. The well-being of all humans depends on our voluntary cooperation to establish a fair and more equitable society. So, next time you go shopping, please, ask yourself whether the products you are about to purchase will contribute to a positive change in our society. Please, inform yourself on the environmental impact, social and health effects of the products you buy and consume. Only through our selective consumption, we can change the world.
Importing cheap low-wage products = importing poverty.
Bart & Caroline Teirlynck - Kortrijksesteenweg 222 - BE 9830 Sint-Martens-Latem.