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12 Mai 2020

Isabelle Schömann and Claudia Saller, Social Europe

Ensuring human rights and sustainability in company supply chains

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As the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world—causing devastating impacts to human rights and laying bare the vulnerability of our economic model and uncontrolled supply chains—the European commissioner for justice has recognised the urgent need for corporate justice.

On April 29th, ... the commissioner, Didier Reynders, committed to an early 2021 legislative initiative on mandatory obligations for EU companies on human rights and environmental due diligence. This measure would encompass liability, enforcement and access to remedies for victims of corporate abuse. He said it would form part of the European Green Deal and the European Recovery Plan...

While Brussels has sent an important signal by taking steps in this area, member states retain the key role in EU decision-making. In Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Luxemburg and others, legislators are looking seriously into human-rights and environmental due-diligence legislation for their country, as well as at the European level...

National governments must recognise their responsibility and their power to act. Any EU legislation will have to be implemented at national level, so governments are well advised to listen to their civil society and trade unions and start preparing such a supply-chain law at home. Work at the national and EU levels must go hand in hand if the result is to be a robust legislative framework, which ensures the protection of human rights and the environment throughout the entire supply chain...