“It is a positive sign that "Responsible business conduct, corporate social responsibility and new business models" are acknowledged as an indispensable element of a sustainable future for Europe. However, in order to make this a reality, we need to take a step forward and provide a legal framework which solves the persisting governance gaps”, says ECCJ coordinator Claudia Saller.
After European Commission’s Vice-President Timmermans had called for enforceable regulation at a public conference on sustainable global value chains last October, his long-awaited reflection paper "Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030" takes a disappointing step back.
It hasn’t taken note of the French "duty of vigilance law" in force since 2017, and the fact that several EU member states are discussing or considering similar legislation.
Moreover, the document ignores the long list of calls by EU institutions and UN bodies who have already spoken out in favor of binding rules on "Human Rights Due Diligence" (HRDD) requirements for business. It also ignores civil society campaigns in Finland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, as well as governments' commitments in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg to consider national level HRDD legislation while emphasising the need for EU legislation, in order to create a level playing field.
A recent European civil society campaign calling for ‘rights for people, rules for business’ including corporate accountability legislation at EU level, collected 200.000 signatures within the two first days. This too remains unconsidered in the reflection paper.
“A legal framework on due diligence and improved access to remedy for victims can position the European economy as a leader in responsible and sustainable business. A binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, currently negotiated at UN level, could complement such a framework and create an international level playing field. The Commission’s reflection paper, unfortunately, lacks determination in creating more responsible business models in Europe”, says Claudia Saller.
Download the Reflection paper here.