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22 Jun 2020

Ykje Vriesinga, NRC

Netherlands: Four political parties submit proposal for mandatory due diligence in parliament

Note: This is an unofficial summary translation of the original Dutch article.

17 June 2020

Four parties in the House of Representatives, led by the Christian Union, want compliance with international guidelines for responsible business conduct, including the elimination of child labour, to be a legal requirement. Dutch companies should be obliged to prevent abuses throughout their production chain.

To this end, Christian Union, SP, PvdA and GroenLinks will submit an initiative note on Wednesday. The memorandum should give the government a basis for legislation on responsible business conduct (RBC), including, for example, ending illegal logging and modern slavery...

The coalition agreement of 2017 provides for an evaluation of Dutch companies' compliance with international RBC guidelines. The final verdict is expected before the recess, which starts on Friday 3 July. In April, Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, D66) said in a letter to the Lower House of Parliament, that this would form the the basis on which to decide whether "mandatory measures" are necessary.

Member of Parliament Voordewind expects the results of the final evaluation of Dutch companies' compliance with RBC guidelines to be poor. Binding measures are the logical next step, he thinks. "The Dutch state has set a target that nine out of ten large companies [...] will follow the OECD guidelines by 2023... [A]t the end of last year this stood at only 35 percent. More action is needed."

MVO Nederland [...] welcomes the initiative note for a legal obligation...