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Press Release

14 Dec 2023

Landmark shift towards human rights protections in business set by European Union despite serious omissions

This morning (14 December), negotiators from EU Parliament, Council (member states) and Commission reached a political deal on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD).

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said:

“The political agreement on a corporate due diligence directive is a historic moment for human rights in business, despite serious omissions. It creates new protections from corporate abuse for workers and communities, alongside a level playing field for responsible business. After decades of paltry voluntary implementation of the international standards for companies to respect human rights, one of the world’s largest economic blocs has agreed a legal duty of care for business for the rights of workers, communities, and environmental protections across value chains.

“With rigorous enforcement, this should fundamentally shift the calculus of risk in the boardrooms of irresponsible companies to end their toleration of human rights abuse in their opaque and complex supply chains.

“While we still need to see the details, it is disappointing that fierce pressure from parts of the industry appear to have succeeded in eviscerating some key safeguards. Just two examples would be the ‘temporary’ exclusion of financial activities from due diligence when investors and banks play such a central role in defining the behaviour of companies in human rights and environment; and the possible exclusion of the impacts of certain high-risk technologies.”

Johannes Blankenbach, Senior EU/Western Europe Researcher & Representative at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said:

“Yet there are important improvements to existing national laws. Scaled up in a European level playing field this will enhance prevention, offer avenues for redress for those harmed, and make global supply chains more equitable and resilient. We also welcome the requirement to put into effect climate transition plans; recognising enforcement will be key.

“The CSDDD responds to the accelerating social and environmental crises of our time, and to ever-growing calls and commitment from global rightsholders including defenders, grassroots organisations, unions, NGOs, European citizens, and responsible voices in businesses, parliamentarians and governments. Apparent carve-outs of impacts, value chain parts or activities covered are highly regrettable, will undermine effectiveness and mean certain corporate abuses of human rights and the environment including climate can continue unabated. Nevertheless, today’s milestone is a testament to efforts across political, business and civil society groups for a more sustainable economy. ”

Next steps

Following this political agreement, technical details will be worked out and then EU Parliament and Council will formally adopt the directive. Afterwards, member states have up to two years to transpose it into national law.

We will keep track of updates and civil society and other reactions to the deal in our ongoing CSDDD Story.


Notes to editors:

Towards EU Mandatory Due Diligence Legislation

Our round-up of all the news on the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive