2021 Annual General Meeting report
September 6th, 2021

The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity for our members to come together to look back at what we have achieved and decide on the way forward for the coming year. Every year, these insightful discussions help us strengthen the civil society movement for corporate accountability.

This past year, the Secretariat doubled in size, and the coalition celebrated multiple advocacy successes. These include a sustainable corporate governance proposal scheduled for release in 2021, following the adoption of the European Parliament’s report on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability in March 2021, alongside committee reports, which include civil liability provisions.

While the French duty of vigilance law continues to be the only law in force at the member state level, the Bundestag adopted the Supply Chain Act this past June, obliging companies to identify and account for their impact on human rights across overseas direct suppliers and, when necessary, also indirect suppliers. The bill will enter into force in Germany in 2023, covering companies with 3,000 or more employees, and from 2024 onwards companies with more than 1,000 employees.

We continued monitoring developments concerning the United Nations Binding Treaty on Business and
Human Rights, and provided oral and written input on the second revised draft.

We also supported the work of the Alliance for Corporate Transparency. The European Commission has reviewed the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and proposed some amendments to corporate sustainability reporting.

Other successes include press coverage in a variety of European and national media – including in EU Observer, Euronews, El Pais, Social Europe, Wiener Zeitung etc. – and a campaign with Friends of the Earth Europe and trade unions asking citizens to raise their voice to #HoldBizAccountable by participating in the European Commission’s public consultation process, which gathered over 145,000 responses.

The Annual General Meeting is also an opportunity to bring together a broader network of partners and allies to exchange expertise and perspectives on specific topics.

Up to 90 participants joined the public sessions this year, and we kicked off with a deep dive into the forthcoming sustainable corporate governance initiative, which has the potential to address, prevent and remedy abuses, such as child and forced labour, poor and unsafe working conditions, and environmental damage and climate-related impacts.

ECCJ invited partner civil society groups to present two parallel dossiers: the EU deforestation and batteries directives. The aim of this session was to understand the bigger picture, and to identify gaps and opportunities for regulatory frameworks.

The discussion moved to how due diligence legislation should be framed and enforced in order to bring effective change. Speakers also discussed trade restrictions, as well as climate and environmental due diligence – two hot topics in Brussels at the moment.

A summary of the discussions can be found here.