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4 May 2020

Aruna Kashyap & Juliane Kippenberg, Human Rights Watch

European Commission Promises to Champion Corporate Accountability

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On April 28, European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, pledged support for binding rules requiring companies to conduct human rights due diligence in their global supply chains, which could help protect millions of workers around the world.

The EU needs “real and mandatory regulations” that govern “human rights, social issues, and environmental issues,” Reynders said... He outlined a vision for “sustainable corporate governance” and explained that authorities at both EU and national government levels could oversee implementation...

Human Rights Watch has exposed environmental and human rights harms in global supply chains in the garmentconstructionagriculture, and mining sectors...

The Covid-19 crisis has sharpened attention to such problems, and the calamitous impact of that business model is being felt most by poor women workers who are part of the supply chains of these brands.

As the commission prepares to kick-off public consultations following Reynders’ pledge, it should develop its questionnaires for the process with inputs from key stakeholders, including human rights and environmental groups, trade unions, and grassroots organizations... Setting a strong agenda that includes sanctions for companies and enforcement mechanisms, coupled with effective public consultations, will form the most solid foundation for the proposed EU regulations...