High-level Panel on Due Diligence in the EU Textile and Garment Sector

The panellists included Katarzyna Kuske (Policy Officer at DG GROW, Unit Tourism, Emerging and Creative Industries, EU Commission), Agnes Jongerius (Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employ-ment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament), Pascale Moreau (Public Affairs Manager, Sustainable Apparel Coalition), Aleix Gonzalez Busquets (Head of External Stakeholder Engage-ment, C&A) and Luc Triangle (Secretary General, IndustriALL Europe).

The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile facilitate debate about opportunities for cooperation around the topic of due diligence in the garment sector at the EU level.

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (Textiles Partnership) and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) organised a panel debate on Monday, June 4th 2018 in Brussels at the margins of the European Development Days. The aim of the event was to discuss the potential for cooperation on the issue of due diligence in the garment sector at the EU level and debate possibilities for scaling up existing national efforts.

Dr. Jürgen Janssen, Head of the Textiles Partnership Secretariat, and Jef Wintermans, Coordinator of the AGT, introduced the approaches of the two initiatives and presented first results as well as lessons learned. In addition, they explained that their strategic cooperation aimed at stronger alignment based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. Afterwards, a high-level panel discussed how responsible business conduct and due diligence in the EU textile and garment sector can be promoted. In particular, the panel debated the need and potential for cooperation around the issue of due diligence at the EU level.

The panel agreed that scaling up the implementation of due diligence by EU textile and garment companies was crucial for achieving systemic and continuous improvements of environmental and working conditions in production countries. The panellists, however, had different opinions on how this should be achieved. While some called for binding due diligence requirements at the EU level, others advocated for stronger alignment of exiting national efforts and requested the EU Commission to provide the necessary support and coordination.

Other topics addressed in the discussion included EU trade policy as an instrument for enhancing compliance with labour and environmental standards, the role of governments in production countries and garment production in Eastern Europe and EU candidate states. Overall, the event facilitated a fruitful discussion among the participants, which included representatives of EU member state governments, the European Commission, the European Parliament, international brands, business associations, trade unions as well as NGOs.