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31 Mar 2023

The Danish Institute for Human Rights

Updated report provides overview of various EU regulatory initiatives of relevance to business & human rights in force or under development by the EU

'How do the pieces fit in the puzzle?', first published 21 January 2022

This publication was updated 31 March 2023 to include:

  • Updates on existing EU regulatory initiatives;
  • The European Sustainability Reporting Standards;
  • Updates on the Technology supplement;

(Please note updates have only been made to the English version)

This publication was updated on 4 August 2022 to include supplements on:

  • EU initiatives focused on the digital ecosystem including the Digital Services Act, the Artificial Intelligence Act and the General Data Protection Regulation; and
  • Public procurement, summarising the Public Procurement Directive.

This publication was updated on 19 April 2022 to include:

In recent years, the European Union has introduced a range of regulatory initiatives which, in different ways, seek to address the negative impacts that businesses can have on the enjoyment of human rights. These include initiatives on Corporate Sustainability Reporting, on Sustainable Corporate Governance, and Sustainable Finance, as well as trade rules and import/export restrictions... 

This publication:

  • Provides a short summary of each of the EU regulatory initiatives;
  • Considers if and how each initiative aligns with international frameworks on business and human rights and contributes to fostering respect for human rights by business both within and outside the EU; and
  • Considers how the initiatives fit together or where this is not the case, highlighting the need for policy coherence.

The initiatives considered in this publication take a range of approaches, from placing hard bans on the importation of goods which are assessed to have been produced in a way that causes particular kinds of harm to people and planet, to softer measures designed to generate market based approaches, whether by improving company disclosures, or incentivising investment in sustainable economic activities. If crafted well, the range of initiatives in force and under development could make up an EU level “smart mix” of measures aimed at fostering business respect for human rights as envisaged in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The publication will be revised periodically to capture updates as the various measures develop.

Part of the following timelines

EU Commission action plan on sustainable finance

EU policy-makers agree on new social & environmental reporting rules for companies

Towards an EU mandatory due diligence & corporate accountability law