Joan Carling, Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI), Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Mary Robinson, Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice, Trinity College Dublin, Chair of The Elders, Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former President of Ireland & 16 other business & human rights experts & leaders
EU: Business & human rights experts & leaders issue joint statement to President von der Leyen & EU Commission on delay to Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative
The EU’s legislative proposal for a Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative, including mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for EU businesses across their global value chains, and improved corporate accountability, was again expected this month – and was again delayed. With no clear indication when this much delayed document will be published, we the undersigned are uniting to ensure this essential legislation is not put on ice indefinitely.
The implications of these delays are not just administrative – they have serious consequences. Since the beginning of 2020, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) has approached European companies over 600 times in response to allegations of human rights abuses, with 500 of those cases occurring outside of Europe. Delaying regulation means the most vulnerable workers and communities on the planet – the ones who toil to make our clothes, source our food, make our cars, phones and everything else we rely on every day – continue to be left without safeguards and justice.
There is a chorus of support for this legislation – alongside 80% of citizens, workers, European governments, trade unions as well as responsible business and investors are all calling for effective legislation to introduce a level playing field for companies and rights protections for workers and communities across their full value chains. There is increasing consensus voluntary measures cannot bring about the necessary changes; Europe needs mandatory legislation now.
Ambitious Sustainable Corporate Governance legislation building on corporate accountability will also be the cornerstone of an effective EU sustainable finance framework, and a fast and fair transition towards zero carbon.
The proposed mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation should include:
A strong civil liability regime ensuring access to remedy for harms, as well as a strong preventative effect, complemented by robust administrative enforcement
Effective and safe stakeholder engagement, including with human rights and environmental defenders
Sufficient scope – to cover all businesses active in the EU market, of all sizes and sectors, including finance, and a duty of care and due diligence obligation for these businesses that extends across their full global value chain
Mandatory requirements which go beyond tick box exercises and auditing, address irresponsible business models and purchasing practices, and are embedded in appropriate governance and accountability structures, including at board level
Protection of all internationally recognised human rights and environmental standards, including women’s, workers’ and Indigenous peoples’ rights, and the obligation for businesses to reduce and account for their climate change impacts
We, the undersigned, call on President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Commission to ensure this seriously concerning delay is used for positive impact: to ensure the proposal sets an ambitious standard of care and requires the widest possible range of businesses to reach it, while improving access to justice and remedy for those affected by corporate abuse. The key measure of success is tangible improvements for workers and communities. There is simply no time to lose.
The request, made on the 15th December 2021, asked for all correspondence and (e)meetings with stakeholders and members of the RSB, related to the proposal, as well as the RSB opinion and the Commission Impact Assessment.
14 industry associations and responsible business initiatives express their support for the EU’s objective to ensure respect for human rights and the environment through an EU-harmonised regulatory approach to due diligence.
MEPs Lara Wolters, Heidi Hautala, Manon Aubry and Pascal Durand have sent an access to document request to the Commission, requesting access to the 2 opinions of the Commission’s internal quality control body, the Regulatory Scrutiny Board and communication between interest groups and the RSB on the Commission’s Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative.
The European Commission should keep its promises and uphold corporate human rights obligations according to an open letter sent to President Ursula von der Leyen on 8 December signed by 47 civil society and trade union organisations.
In a debate in Parliament Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation announced that due to the "very disappointing" and "indefinite" delays at the European Commission, the Dutch government will immediately start work on ambitious national binding due diligence legislation.
On International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, over 60 civil society organisations sent an open letter to European Commissioners, Members of Parliament, and Council of the European Union Representatives, urging them to make the forthcoming corporate human rights and environmental due diligence law gender-responsive.
While the discussions on sustainable corporate governance and supply chain due diligence continue at EU level and a proposal for a directive has been postponed several times, Germany is sending a strong signal.
The struggle of the Lenca people, of Bertha and her daughter, is only one example of the daily struggle of indigenous and peasant communities to protect land, water sources, forests and our human family from the negative impacts of corporate activities. The upcoming Sustainable Corporate Governance proposal could be a game-changer for communities faced with corporate abuse worldwide.
Campaign calls on Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton to introduce an ambitious legislative proposal on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.
In a letter to President von der Leyen, and Commissioners Reynders and Breton, MEPs stressed the importance of addressing barriers to justice for victims of corporate abuse in the upcoming due diligence law proposal
To effectively stop human rights violations and negative environmental impacts in global supply chains, EU policymakers should ensure the upcoming legislation leads to positive impacts for rightsholders and improves the situation and the livelihoods of smallholders.
In her letter to the presidents of EPP, S&D, Renew, GreensEFA and the Left political groups, President Von der Leyen stresses the importance of ensuring consistency in developing a sustainable framework for economic operators, and that the initiative will be adopted in 2021
"By passing world-leading legislation now to ensure transparency, liability for environmental and human rights abuses and remedy for the individuals affected, the EU can point the way to a safer, more sustainable planet, and establish frontrunner status in sustainability and justice" - MEP Toine Manders, European People's Party, and Steve Trent, Environmental Justice Foundation
The note provides recommendations in light of the European Parliament's resolution of 10 March 2021 on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability, focusing in particular on issues connected with the translation of human rights due diligence into a binding legal standard, and on corporate accountability and remedy.
The undersigned Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to President von der Leyen and 13 commissioners reiterating some of the key demands of the European Parliament’s legislative own-initiative resolution regarding the upcoming proposal on Sustainable Corporate Governance.
The briefing follows a public letter sent by NGOs to DG Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans in support of the EU Commission plans on Sustainable Corporate Governance.
The fate of the proposals on (i) minimising the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market and (ii) sustainable corporate governance is now unclear, raising concerns among civil society.
Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Tony’s Chocolonely & Unilever shared a joint letter to Commissioners Reynders, Breton and Sinkevičius, calling for the adoption of a legislative proposal without further delay.
Eight years on from the Rana Plaza building collapse, many European fashion companies are still linked to human rights abuses on a daily basis. For an EU due diligence law to make a difference, it can’t just be a list of boxes companies must tick.
The organisations call on the EU to ensure that its upcoming legislative measures are effective and fully uphold their rights as set out in international law, and in line with the EU’s own commitments.
EU Financial Stability Commissioner Mairead McGuiness and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders explain the importance of aligning the due diligence law proposal with reforms to the non-financial reporting directive (NRFD) if companies are to effectively be held to account
Over half a million people around the globe have demanded a strong EU law to hold corporations accountable for their impact on human rights, including trade union and workers’ rights, and the environment. These demands were made as part of the public consultation launched by the EU Commission.
John Ruggie voices three reservations: (1) directors are not the main driver of short-termism; (2) opposition to addressing directors’ duties may jeopardize the initiative; and (3) doing so may be largely unnecessary, as properly designed mandatory due diligence will itself change directors’ duties, he writes.
The European Commission hold a virtual exchange with three business & human rights advocates from the Global South as part of a public consultation for the proposed corporate human rights and environmental due diligence law
The European Commission is considering a new law to hold businesses accountable for their impact on people and the planet. To support people in participating in the EU's consultation on mandatory due diligence, Friends of the Earth, the European Trade Union Confederation, Arbeiterkammer Europa (AK Europa), Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (OGB) and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) have launched a new website.
As the European Parliament begins developing proposals for a new – and momentous – law to hold business to account for its impact on people and planet, Richard Gardiner from Global Witness sets out how this process came about and what needs to happen now to ensure this really delivers results.