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Responsible business

EU trade policy seeks to help ensure that companies produce their products responsibly, respecting workers and the environment.

Trade topics
  • Sustainable development

Nowadays companies increasingly design and make their products in several stages, often in various countries. Raw materials and components are traded from one country to another, assembled and finally exported to the country where they reach the consumer. This is known as global value or supply chains.

Production in the EU depends on imports from other countries of:

  • energy and raw materials;
  • parts and components, and/or;
  • capital goods, such as machinery.

EU trade policy aims to help ensure that each stage is carried out responsibly so that it respects workers and the environment.

Conflict Minerals

EU law will soon require exporters, importers and producers to ensure that minerals imported into Europe do not contribute to financing of armed groups.

Conflict minerals regulation and help for importers

Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility – sometimes called 'responsible business conduct' – refers to companies' efforts to integrate social, environmental and ethical aspects into their decision-making and business operations.

The International Labour Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations have developed international guidelines and principles on:

  • human rights;
  • working conditions;
  • the environment, and;
  • anti-corruption.

The EU also works with its trading partners to promote responsible business conduct (also known as corporate social responsibility) among their business, including though specific projects and activities.

Fair and Ethical Trade

Voluntary labelling can help consumer have more information on the sustainability of products they buy. Transparent schemes can help promote more sustainable trade.

To promote voluntary labelling schemes, the EU runs the 'EU City for Fair and Ethical Trade' awards. The awards involve EU cities and municipalities, civil society groups, the European Parliament and authorities in EU countries.

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