The free trade agreement between Kenya and Europe may encounter challenges, as it needs to address compliance issues related to the EU Green Deal.

This initiative binds Kenya’s exports to sustainable production under the farm-to-folk approach, potentially impacting the perceived benefits of the agreement.

Last week, Kenya moved closer to sealing a duty and tax-free trade pact with the EU after the agreement received approval from the EU parliament.

However, the European Green Deal, launched in December 2019, poses hurdles, outlining stringent policies and targets to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050.

The EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) includes binding provisions on international standards, labour, gender equality, climate, and the environment. It establishes safeguards to prevent compromises on labour and environmental standards.

The EU hails it as the most ambitious trade deal with a developing country, particularly in terms of sustainability provisions such as climate protection, environmental conservation, and labour rights.

Stakeholder have express concerns over the Green Deal’s impact. Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council, highlighted the pressure on producers, especially smallholders lacking necessary resources for compliance.

Mr Tulezi said the Green Deal’s demand for reduced pesticide usage adds complexity, requiring innovation and investment.

 “The Green Deal is putting a lot of pressure on the producers side coz they have to look at their system and invest a lot of resources, look at their personnel and technical know-how around this and compliance, it is putting a lot of pressure, especially on smallholder farmers who may not have all the resources and system that they need to comply,” said Mr Tulezi.

Kenyan stakeholders have for the last three years resisted EU calls to ban over 260 pesticide molecules, arguing it could negatively impact produce given the country’s susceptibility to pests due to its tropical location.

Kenya's former Trade Cabinet Secretary and EU Trade Representative during the signing of EPA Agreement in June. Image: courtesy.
Kenya’s former Trade Cabinet Secretary and EU Trade Representative during the signing of EPA Agreement in June. Image: courtesy.

Under the EPA, Kenya must adhere to international labour, which has seen in the past EU reject Kenyan goods due to poor working conditions and labour abuses, especially on large farms.

Europe is Kenya’s main market and last year accounted for 51 percent of the total Ksh156.7 billion that the country earned from the exports of fresh produce.

The EU Green Deal; what it entails.

the European Green Deal is a comprehensive set of initiatives and strategies introduced by the European Commission to address environmental challenges and promote sustainable development.

  1. Climate Neutrality: The central goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This involves reducing emissions across various sectors and increasing carbon removal measures.
  2. Circular Economy: The Green Deal emphasizes the transition to a circular economy, aiming to minimize waste and promote recycling, reuse, and sustainable consumption patterns.
  3. Biodiversity: The initiative seeks to halt biodiversity loss by protecting and restoring ecosystems. It includes measures to increase the use of organic farming and reduce the use of pesticides.
  4. Sustainable Agriculture: The Green Deal promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices, emphasizing the importance of biodiversity, soil health, and resource efficiency.
  5. Clean Energy: The EU aims to significantly increase the share of renewable energy sources, enhance energy efficiency, and support the development of clean technologies to transition towards a low-carbon energy system.
  6. Renovation Wave: There is a focus on improving the energy efficiency of buildings through a renovation wave, aiming to make existing buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable.
  7. Smart Mobility: The Green Deal promotes sustainable and smart mobility solutions, with an emphasis on reducing emissions from the transportation sector and supporting the development of electric vehicles and public transportation.
  8. Just Transition: Acknowledging the socio-economic challenges associated with the transition to a green economy, the EU Green Deal includes measures to ensure a fair and inclusive transition, providing support to regions and industries most affected.

The EU Green Deal represents a comprehensive and transformative approach to address climate change and environmental issues while fostering economic growth and social well-being. It encompasses a wide range of policies and initiatives to create a more sustainable and resilient future for the European Union.