The German government has called for European “binding regulations” to set a standard for sustainably-produced cocoa. The call was made as part of a national 10-point Action Plan for cocoa, launched on 23 January by German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner and Development Minister Gerd Mueller. The 10-point Action Plan sets out how the German government plans to address rampant deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector. The Action Plan also proposes to train farmers in sustainable cocoa production and strengthen the role of women in the cocoa sector.
The call echoes similar statements from the French and Belgian governments at the end of 2018, where both called for the “rapid adoption” of an EU due diligence regulation to tackle child labour and deforestation in the cocoa sector. Chocolate companies have expressed similar views, concluding at the April 2018 World Cocoa Conference in Berlin that their voluntary commitments to end child labour and deforestation had “not led to sufficient impact”, and that there was a need to look at “potential regulatory measures by governments.”
At a European Commission event in Brussels on 24 January 2019, Mondelez (the world’s second-largest chocolate company) expressed their “strong support” for “harmonized EU legislation to create a level playing field” in the cocoa sector.
Germany’s 10-point Action Plan comes just as the European Commission launches its open consultation (to close 25 February 2019) on “Stepping up EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation”, which sets out how the EU will address deforestation resulting from its consumption of cocoa, amongst other things. The EU is by quite a long way the world’s largest importer of cocoa, responsible for over 60% of global cocoa bean imports.
Julia Christian, forests campaigner at the NGO Fern, said: “Europeans consume the majority of the world’s cocoa, so we are very much responsible for the nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, as well as the near-total destruction of forests in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana."