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France leads EU on duty of care requirements for multinationals

After four years of debate, France has finally adopted a law on duty of care by multinational companies.  This paves the way for similar laws in Belgium and Spain, although the project is stalled at European level...Under negotiation since almost the beginning of François Hollande’s mandate, the bill aims to strengthen the responsibility of parent companies for their subcontractors, particularly in the developing world.  The bill was adopted by a large majority: of the 98 MPs present for the vote, 94 voted in favour.  Most MPs outside the governing Socialist Party abstained, but despite official instructions to reject the bill, some Republican MPs voted for it...In more tangible terms, the new law obliges French companies to adhere to a vigilance plan to prevent violations of human rights and environmental damage throughout their production chains.  “That should allow us to avoid another Rana Plaza,” said Dominique Potier, a Socialist MP and rapporteur on the bill...Companies can be sanctioned with fines of up to €30 million for not respecting the rules.  But the original bill was softened during the long debate, with criminal prosecutions for company bosses among the measures removed from the final version...

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