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29 Nov 2022

Human Rights Watch

EU Due Diligence Directive: Human Rights Watch urges Council members to reject German proposals to reduce civil liability

"Sub: EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive", 23. November 2022

Dear Ambassadors,

We are writing to urge the Council to firmly reject the proposals presented by Germany in its October 2022 “non-paper” (referred to as paper in this letter) and to ensure that Article 22 is sufficiently robust to serve as a strong deterrent for companies. Germany’s paper recommended reducing civil liability (Article 22) in the draft EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) in several ways.

We are also writing to urge the Council to keep the widest possible scope of the directive throughout the value chain, rather than just the “supply chain.”

We would also like to request Council members to provide civil society groups with the latest draft of the EU CSDDD proposal being deliberated in the Council and urgently convene an online meeting with civil society groups before the Council’s proposal is finalized on December 1.

Germany proposed that companies only be liable for “intentional or negligent failure” to comply with specific human rights obligations in Articles 7, 8. The Council should reject this and instead ensure the proposed directive provides that companies can be held liable for “a failure to comply with the Directive through its actions or omissions.”

We understand that the Council, at this writing, has not adopted Germany’s proposal to increase the threshold to successfully bring a civil claim to “intent or gross negligence” in cases where the company is a member of an “approved” sector or industry initiative. We hope that this continues to remain the position of the Council and that Germany’s proposals to increase the threshold for civil liability do not find traction in discussions.


If the proposals made by Germany were adopted, they would severely limit access to justice for victims of corporate abuses, serving corporate interests at the cost of human rights and the environment, seriously undermining the effectiveness of the directive.


We hope that Council members will reject the proposal put forward by Germany and meaningfully engage with civil society organizations before the proposal is finalized, and also provide more information directly to civil society. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.

Best regards,

Philippe Dam, EU Director, Human Rights Watch

Wenzel Michalski, Germany Director, Human Rights Watch