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3 Jul 2020

Business and Human Rights - Germany's Presidency of the Council of the EU

German Presidency of the Council of the EU via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

On 1 July 2020, the Federal Republic of Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. There are high hopes that the German EU Presidency will advance business and human rights at EU level as an integral part of a sustainable recovery post-COVID-19, particularly with regards to mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for companies. In April 2020, Justice Commissioner Reynders had announced that the Commission will put forward a proposal for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence in 2021 (see here for the Commission's public online consultation on this matter).

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) over summer published a thematic presidency reader, including on "Global Supply Chains - Global Responsibility", and held an online conference on 6 and 7 October 2020 highlighting the need for mandatory corporate due diligence and improved access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse. The conference outcome paper and livestream recording (first day) are available online.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) hosted a virtual forum (link includes livestream recording) on 24 November 2020 where stakeholders from business, civil society and the public sector discussed what meaningful EU due diligence and corporate accountability legislation as part of a "smart mix" should look like. A compendium "Towards EU Mandatory Due Diligence Legislation", coordinated and published by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in cooperation with BMZ as well as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), was presented at this online event.

On 1 December 2020, the EU Council approved conclusions which, for the first time, include a call for a proposal from the Commission for an EU legal framework on sustainable corporate governance, including cross-sector corporate due diligence obligations along global supply chains.

This story documents and collects developments, statements and materials on business & human rights in the context of the German EU Council Presidency (for information in German see here).