European dialogue platform on ethical and solidarity-based initiatives for combating poverty and social exclusion
 

Public policy support for citizensí 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).
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Categories of available information

 
 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.
 
Fair trade
 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.
 
Responsible consumption
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.