European dialogue platform on ethical and
solidarity-based initiatives for combating poverty and social
Public policy support for citizens’ initiatives in the economy
(legislation and public measures)
In addition to the European Union, public authorities at national, regional and
local level, especially in western Europe, have recognised the existence and
relevance of numerous forms of citizen commitment in the economy such as ethical
use of financial resources (ethical finance) or responsible consumption
initiatives (fair trade, responsible consumption). The authorities have
elaborated texts, recommendations and legislation for the different sectors and
have initiated various forms of support aiming to promote their development.
The twenty-three answers received to the questionnaire sent out to the member
States of the Council of Europe enabled the collection and systematisation of
data and a certain number of legal or political support documents, as well as
various communications recognizing different forms of citizen commitment.
Publication of reference
Trends in social
cohesion No.12 "Ethical, solidarity-based citizen involvement in the economy: a
prerequisite for social cohesion" This publication contains an article on the
range of texts and legislation relating to the solidarity-based
economy in the European Union and in the member States of the
Council of Europe (pp. 89-106). Download
According to the findings of the questionnaire,
solidarity-based finance initiatives are available in about 40% of the
member States of the Council of Europe. By contrast, legislation supporting
ethical finance exists in about 20% of member States. The majority of the
legislative or legal initiatives found in western European countries take
place at national level and remain exceptional at regional and local level.
The findings of the questionnaire show that fair
trade is more widespread in the different countries than ethical finance.
Fair trade initiatives are found in 44% of the member States of the Council
of Europe, while legislation supporting fair trade exists in 24% of member
States. The legal initiatives, which so far are found only in western
European countries, exist at national, regional and local level.
While it is easy to clarify and identify the usual forms of initiatives for the
ethical finance and the fair trade sector, it is more difficult as far as
responsible consumption is concerned as there are numerous ways to view this
vast and varied field. The analysis will, for instance, focus on commitments
which include networking and citizen involvement in responsible consumption or
on important state initiatives touching that field. Due to its wide scope of
application, the responsible consumption sector occupies the highest percentage
of the results from the questionnaire. Responsible consumption initiatives are
available in about 72% of the member States of the Council of Europe, while
supporting legislation for this sector exists in 48% of the member States.
Legal initiatives exist in western European countries as well as in eastern and
southern European countries to a lesser extent. They take place at national,
regional and local level.