EU ministers: Guarantee an effective corporate sustainability law
On Monday, 28 November, the European Coalition for Corporate Justice and 50 other civil society organisations sent letters to EU ministers asking them to take a constructive position on the corporate sustainability due diligence directive to protect human rights, the environment and climate.

The letter welcomes the efforts of governments to act quickly and commends the outstanding leadership of the Czech Presidency on delivering a workable text. However, rather than living up to international standards and strengthening the European Commission’s proposal, some parts of the draft law have been dramatically weakened while under discussion in the Council.

A compromise text, as reported by the press, shows that many types of financial services, large institutional funds and asset managers would not fall under the scope of the directive in the latest version of the text. In the Commission’s original version, all large financial companies were covered.

Another hot button issue is whether the directive should apply only to a company’s supply chain or its entire value chain. Some member states are pushing to limit rules to a “chain of activities” that encompasses a company’s supply chain as well as “the distribution, transport, storage and disposal of the product”. This would still leave out downstream activities of weapons or pesticide producers, for example.

The Council’s proposal would also curtail the scope of human rights, fail to guarantee access to justice, and fall short of improving provisions on environmental and climate due diligence.

The letter reminds ministers that over half a million citizens demanded a strong directive obliging companies to respect human rights and the environment, and take decisive climate action. In addition, over 200 civil society and trade union organizations have been clear on how to strengthen the text in line with public demands.

We urge EU ministers to use their vote on 1 December in favor of a general approach that:

  • Covers the full value chain, including downstream impacts and the full coverage of the financial sector;
  • Expands the scope of rights and impacts covered, including climate impacts and concrete transition plans;
  • Strengthens access to justice and addresses barriers to justice often faced by claimants in business-related human rights and environmental cases.

The directive has the potential to be a win-win for citizens, companies, states and the planet. If robust, these rules will contribute to a resilient economy by improving quality of life for workers, prevent economic and climate crises, and enable social and economic justice.