Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Tuesday, 13 March 2012

International Cocoa Agreement backed by parliament

The cocoa industry has been accused of not doing enough to tackle child labour and exploitation.

British Labour MEP David Martin was speaking during a debate on 13 March 2012 on whether the EU should sign the latest International Cocoa Agreement.

The agreement is a deal between the world's leading producing and consuming countries of cocoa to try to make the trade fairer and more transparent.

Mr Martin backed the agreement, but said the industry needed to go much further in improving working conditions.

He claimed that the industry made over €700bn in the past decade, spending only 0.0075% on investing in working conditions.

He said the industry should "provide schools for the children they exploit".

The EU is the world's biggest consumer of chocolate.

Under the agreement, the private sector and NGOs will have more of a role in improving environmental standards, and small producers will gain easier access to credit.

Concerns have been raised about the role of child labour in the cocoa trade, with the International Labour Organisation estimating that millions of children in countries such as Ivory Coast and Ghana work on cocoa farms.

Italian liberal MEP Niccolo Rinaldi claimed that the cocoa trade was a key factor in slavery, and that "inhumanity remains in the trade".

The European Parliament's International Trade Committee has recommended that MEPs consent to the agreement, but says the Commission should come forward with new proposals for laws to make it easier to trace the source of cocoa.

The vote on the agreement took place during the daily voting session on 14 March 2012, where it was approved on a show of hands.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.


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