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15 Mai 2024

Human Rights Watch

EU: Corporate accountability central human rights issue in upcoming European elections, according to HRW

"A Human Rights Guide to the 2024 European Elections"

Between 6 and 9 June 2024 voters in all 27 EU member states will go to the polls to elect 720 members of the European Parliament. These will be the first European elections since Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, and conflicts in Ukraine and in the Middle East that have polarized Europe.

The European Parliament is the only EU institution directly elected by EU citizens. In turn, the  composition of the European Commission is also influenced by the election results, as Commissioners need to be approved by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to take office. These two institutions work together with the Council of the European Union on many issues that are central to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms of every EU citizen and of everyone else globally. These issues include poverty and inequality, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, racial justice and non-discrimination, disability rights, climate change, corporate accountability, human rights in foreign policy, migration, and many more. [...]

Which human rights issues are at stake in these European elections?

We face complex challenges ahead: wars in Europe and in its neighborhood, rising and entrenching authoritarianism, erosion of democracy and the rule of law at home and abroad, poverty and inequality, an assault on human rights in the EU and around the world, and climate change.

As candidates seek your vote, think about how the policies they propose will protect and advance the human rights agenda both in Europe and abroad. Here are some of the issues you could consider: [...]

8. Corporate Accountability

Corporations’ activities have a huge impact on human rights around the world. Millions of workers are employed by the companies’ global supply chains, and many of them toil in bad working conditions, including forced labor, poverty wages, illegal child labor, and poor occupational health and safety conditions. Corporate activities can also have significant environmental impacts, which can disproportionately harm  Indigenous Peoples and other local communities.

On April 24, 2024, the European Parliament adopted the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which if approved by EU governments would require large corporations to respect human rights, labor, and environmental standards in their operations and supply chains. The European Parliament in April 2024 also adopted legislation prohibiting the import and export of products made with forced labor, a key tool to tackle both state-imposed and other forms of forced labor.

Check to see where the candidates and parties on your ballot stand on:

  • Speaking up against corporate abuses;
  • Enacting and expanding legislation to regulate corporations’ activities;
  • Ensuring that affected people and communities have access to justice and remedies. [...]