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EU Commissioner for Justice commits to legislation on mandatory due diligence for companies

On 29 April 2020, the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, announced that the Commission commits to introducing rules for mandatory corporate environmental and human rights due diligence, as part of a Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative. The announcement was made during a high-level online event hosted by the EU Parliament’s Responsible Business Conduct Working Group, during which the Commissioner presented the findings of the Commission study on options for regulating due diligence requirements. You can watch the webinar here.

MEPs, NGOs and other stakeholders welcomed the annoucement. In December 2019, over 100 organisations had launched a campaign calling for EU human rights and environmental due diligence legislation. See the joint NGO statement on principal elements of an EU due diligence legislation here.

In December 2020, towards the end of the German EU Council presidency, the Council called 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. See here for a due diligence webinar series supported by the current Portuguese EU presidency.

In response to the EU Commission's announcement, Members of the European Parliament started working on developing a European Parliament (EP) position on the shape such a law could take. On 27 January 2021, the EP Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) adopted a report including recommendations to the Commission on mandatory corporate due diligence and accountability. The final report was adopted on 10th March with 504 votes in favour, 79 against and 112 abstentions. CSOs welcomed it as a strong signal from the European Parliament but said the Commission will have to go further in its upcoming legislative proposal.

On 8 February, the Commission concluded a public online consultation on its Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative. The Commission's legislative proposal is expected for autumn this year.

Further information is available below, on our mandatory due diligence portal, and in this blog piece by BHRRC's Phil Bloomer and ITUC's Sharon Burrow for Open Democracy on the Commission's plans for mandatory due diligence.

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