Ethical espresso? : exploring the extent to which the European Union supports the Fair Trade coffee industry and the potential for an EU Fair Trade coffee policy.
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of European Union Studies
Coffee is consumed daily by many citizens of the European Union (EU) and plays an important cultural role in bringing people together for social interactions. However, as consumption of this beverage continues to grow, a key issue for the global coffee industry is sustainable development, particularly in the wake of climate change. Furthermore, almost all coffee is produced in developing countries, and the increasing economic powers of international coffee corporations has highlighted the vulnerability of coffee growers, through low wages, poor working conditions and little opportunity for business development. The EU has worked to increasingly incorporate sustainable development into its policies, alongside other European values such as democracy and respect for human rights, as laid out in the Treaty of Lisbon. The concept of Fair Trade has been identified as a key way for the EU to support the sustainable development of the coffee industry; as a third-party sustainability certification which upholds rigorous standards in all three areas of sustainable development: social, environmental and economic. Strong support of Fair Trade has already been demonstrated by EU consumers in their purchasing behaviour, with EU citizens representing the largest market of Fair Trade consumers in the world. Using a discourse analysis of policy documents from the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC), this thesis examines the extent to which these two decision-making institutions of the EU support the Fair Trade coffee industry. Through applying the theoretical frameworks of Manners’ Normative Power Europe and Damro’s Market Power Europe, there is evidence of strong discrepancy between the EP and the EC’s political discourses regarding the Fair Trade coffee industry. This analysis forms the basis of a recommendation that the EU create a Fair Trade policy in order to address the need for greater support of the sustainable development of the global coffee industry, through a common EU Fair Trade coffee policy.