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7 Feb 2024

Swedwatch, Naturskyddsföreningen, Fairtrade Sverige ForumCiv and Oxfam Sverige

EU: Swedwatch & 3 others call on Swedish Govt. to respect political compromise

"Call to the government: Don´t back down from your promise", 7 Feb 24

On February 9, the EU ambassadors will vote in COREPER on the political agreement reached in December last year. The work to bring about this legislation has been going on for over three years and a no could mean that the negotiations must recommence, if there is even time before the EU parliamentary elections this summer.

It is extremely rare for Member States to not endorse such a political agreement. Worst case, this could mean that there will be no common EU legislation on corporate responsibility, which would ultimately affect vulnerable groups who have become victims of human rights violations or environmental destruction linked to company operations.

It has long been clear that voluntary standards – the UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – have not been sufficient to hold companies accountable for negative impacts on human rights, the environment and the climate.

While the Swedish government has previously been reluctant about certain parts of the directive, after several changes made, the government eventually supported the Council's position. If Sweden now chooses to abstain or vote against, there is a risk that other countries will follow suit. As a minority of four countries could block the proposal, Sweden could have a decisive vote.

Businesses are also concerned. In a joint statement well known Nordic companies are calling on governments to support the CSDDD through the last stages of the legislative process. Last autumn Volvo, IKEA and other large Swedish companies publicly expressed their support for a harmonized legislation. And ahead of the initial negotiations, in early 2022, over 100 companies signed a large company petition at EU level demanding effective sustainability legislation.

Surveys from nine EU countries show that over 85% of citizens want to see legislation that can hold companies accountable for violations of human rights and environmental destruction.