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6 Mär 2024

European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

Commentary: Why killing the CSDDD will create a mismatched patchwork of national due diligence laws

After the blockage from EU capitals last week, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of European Union is tabling a final attempt to find a compromise to meaningfully defend human rights and the environment from corporate exploitation. Meanwhile, voices of victims of corporate abuse raise their voices sending a clear message: the EU must say yes to the CSDDD...

Due diligence legislation exists in some EU Member States and will continue.

Luxembourg pledged that if CSDDD didn’t make it though, they’d be coming up with a national law. On February 28, 2024, the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies passed a motionto firmly support the successful conclusion at the European level of the draft directive concerning the duty of care, and to legislate at national level on the duty of care of companies if the draft as mentioned above European directive is not adopted“. The Luxembourg Prime Minister, Luc Frieden, was present at the parliament to immediately respond to the motion by expressing his commitment to a national law during his speech. However, the Prime Minister made clear his strong preference for the EU’s CSDDD legislative process to reach a fruitful outcome.

This is not an isolated case. Across the EU, advanced civil society campaigns for national due diligence laws exist in a growing number of EU member states – including Ireland, Austria, Spain, Italy and Belgium, whereas actual national legislative proposals already exist in others, such as the Netherlands. The Spanish and Finnish governments have already held consultations on national laws, whereas due diligence parliamentary bills have been tabled in Austria and Belgium.

Even outside the EU: Brazil, Norway, South Korea, Japan, the UK and the US are moving on with their due diligence initiatives. Internationally, due diligence legislative proposals are also beginning to proliferate. Of all of these regulatory initiatives, the CSDDD has been described as the most aligned with internationally agreed upon, decade-old standards (based on the UN Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines), that many companies are already acutely familiar with.

But the need for EU-wide legislation leaves businesses negotiating a fragmented legal landscape. CSDDD avoids a lot of unnecessary hassle and confusion for companies. Without the CSDDD, the EU regulatory due diligence framework would continue to splinter and fragment. EU civil society will continue to passionately mobilise, campaign and advocate for national due diligence laws that ensure EU Members States live up to their international commitments to ensure that corporations do not harm human rights.