German and Dutch garment and textile agreements feature in Brussels

Can problems in the garment and textile industry be tackled at European level? That was the main question addressed during the 4th of June meeting in Brussels on ‘Promoting responsible business conduct and due diligence in the EU textile and garment sector’.

Unique in Europe

Organisations in both the Netherlands and Germany have united to prevent negative impacts in the garment and textile industry. Businesses, NGOs, governmental organisations, trade unions and industry associations are working together to improve working conditions in production countries. This multi-stakeholder approach is unique in Europe and has attracted considerable international interest. The meeting was therefore well attended and welcomed more than eighty representatives of commercial organisations such as C&A, Asics, Nike and LIDL, as well as various European and international industry associations. Representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament were also in attendance.

Debating a possible harmonised approach

The meeting in Brussels featured presentations by Jef Wintermans, representing the Dutch Agreement partners, and Jürgen Janssen, representing their German counterparts. They also explained how the two initiatives are cooperating. Various stakeholders from across Europe then discussed the potential for a Europe-wide approach to tackle and mitigate negative impacts in the garment and textile industry. 

Various attendees stressed that the case of the garment and textile industry needs a carefully fine-tuned European approach. For companies operating on a European (or international) level it is especially desirable to implement a uniform approach. Representatives of European trade unions, the European parliament and various NGOs insisted on European legislation. 

The meeting was organised by the German Textile Partnership, the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textiles (AGT) and the Dutch and German Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the European Union hosted the meeting.