Since GFA is "global", this question is more from a global standpoint. How do you see the EU Textile Strategy affecting other countries? Surely companies manufacturing in SE Asia or Africa will have to keep a lot of things in mind, especially what with the campaign against fast fashion now taking an official form, they will now have to produce less. Plus, with the extended producer responsibility (EPR) angle, do you think brands/retailers of EU will try to clean up also in countries where they manufacture? Please elaborate.
As the global policy convenors for the industry, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) has been strongly advocating for that global approach to be included and concretely addressed in the Strategy over the past years. During CFS+ last year (the digital edition of Global Fashion Summit, formerly Copenhagen Fashion Summit) we hosted for instance a policy roundtable entitled ‘The EU Textiles Strategy in the Global Context: Opportunities and Challenges’ which provided a platform of exchange between policymakers and industry representatives from all four corners of the globe for the latter to provide the former with recommendations to take into consideration when building an EU Textiles Strategy for a truly global value chain.
As such we are pleased to see that both the ‘EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles’ and the 'European Commission Communication on Making Sustainable Products the Norm' presented on 30 March include a strong focus on the global level.
We welcome in particular the EU’s intention to pursue global progress towards more sustainable and circular textiles in international fora such as G7/G20 as well as in the UN Environmental Assembly. EU action will indeed not be enough for this truly global value chain, and we hope that the EU’s track record of advocating for sustainability worldwide as done for other sectors such as plastics (with the creation of the Global Plastics Agreement) will permeate to textiles.
At GFA, we look forward to continuing to pursue this effort to convene actors around this topic—be it at global, regional or bilateral levels. This will be achieved through different formats, including forthcoming policy roundtables during our next Global Fashion Summit (7–8 June, Royal Opera House, Copenhagen, Denmark) or through our involvement in the global Sustainable Consumption and Production Forum . Because, to your point: the EU Textiles Strategy will affect other regions and it is of upmost importance to increase the dialogue with them to raise awareness and anticipate the concrete implications.
It is also worth mentioning that the Commission’s proposal on corporate sustainability due diligence should have a particularly strong impact on other countries as it aims to “[promote] greener and fairer value chains across borders and continents” and “should contribute to driving sustainable business models at global level”. Even if this piece of legislation is not part of the Strategy as such, as it was published a few weeks ahead (see next question, it is included in the overall framework that the Strategy represents. The enforcement of the directive in the textiles sector is listed in the Textile Strategy’s Annex as of 2023.
In the current context following the pandemic, which magnified the various system flaws in the industry, legislation was the missing piece and we are pleased to see that the EU is taking into account the global dimension. The rest of the world now needs to follow suit.
Waste and EPR have also been topics on which GFA has been actively mobilised together with our fellow Policy Hub partnering organisations since 2020. This has been done through the organisation of several roundtables and the publication of position papers. And we fully agree with what you mention in your question: when it comes to tackling them, we need to keep the global angle in mind. Realising a circular system of both high quality and safe secondary raw textile materials will be of more benefit if addressed from a European—and ideally global—level. The Policy Hub - Circularity for Apparel and Footwear recognises that the EU should not export its waste problem abroad and we hope for operators outside of the EU to have the obligation to meet requirements equivalent to those of the EU.