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30 Aug 2023

Update: 40+ businesses & networks reaffirm support for ambitious EU CSDDD in line with international standards during Trilogue

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On 11 April 2023, 31 businesses and networks released a joint statement calling for alignment of the EU's Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) with the international standards of the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Further supporters joined in the weeks between the European Parliament's JURI committee and plenary votes, urging MEPs to adopt a text more closely aligned with the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines than the earlier proposals from the EU Commission and Council.

The EU Parliament adopted its position on 1 June. The business statement covers many of the key issues from - and goes further than - this position.

An updated version published on 30 August with more than 40 signatories reaffirms support during the current 'Trilogue' phase of negotiations: "In our view, the next few months will be pivotal in the further evolution of responsible business conduct. The EU Council, Parliament and Commission have each adopted their proposals for the CSDDD and Trilogue negotiations on a final law are underway."

The group comes from a range of countries and sectors and includes ALDI SÜD, Unilever, MARS, IKEA, Aviva Investors, Ericsson, Hapag-Lloyd, Novo Nordisk, Bolton Group, the Global Network Initiative (GNI), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), GLS Bank and others.

The joint business statement outlines five key points:

  1. The due diligence requirements should be risk-based and apply to the entire spectrum of risks and impacts across the full value chains of companies, including downstream, in all sectors, including financial institutions, in line with the international standards.
  2. Multistakeholder collaboration can provide a platform to learn from others' experiences. However, initiatives can only support, but never replace, a company’s own due diligence responsibilities. They therefore cannot provide any 'safe harbour'.
  3. The core content of the due diligence duty should incentivise companies and their directors to look at the company’s own activities (e.g. their purchasing practices or business model) that can heighten or reduce risks to people, the environment and climate across value chains. It should encourage engagement by companies with business partners, rather than top-down policing through an overreliance on contracts and audits.
  4. The distinguishing feature of sustainability due diligence is that it depends for its effectiveness and credibility on the perspectives of affected stakeholders, incl. workers, unions, communities and human rights & environmental defenders. This needs to be reflected clearly in the Directive. Meaningful and safe engagement with affected stakeholders is central to due diligence.
  5. The Directive will not be effective without meaningful enforcement to ensure that companies that are subject to it carry out due diligence to a high quality and that those who are harmed have access to remedy. This includes both administrative supervision and civil liability.

Many other businesses and industry associations have already expressed support for effective mandatory due diligence legislation.

The full statement including a list of signatories can be found below.

Business Statement & Signatories (PDF)

Support for alignment of the CSDDD with the international standards on sustainability due diligence