Annual Report 2022: Towards an EU Corporate accountability legislation
April 10th, 2023
Annual Report 2022

The business and human rights movement is currently experiencing unprecedented momentum and recognition in the EU. There’s a growing acknowledgment of the essential intersection between business practices and human rights, fostering an unprecedented drive for accountability and the protection of human dignity within corporate operations. 

But what happened in 2022 that so significantly changed the tune?
In February 2022, the European Commission presented the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), intending to impose due diligence obligations on businesses to avoid and remedy harmful effects on people and the environment. After years of inertness and mild national initiatives to regulate business activities around the continent, the EU stood up and acknowledged that binding regulations are not only a necessity but a key priority, and that in itself is groundbreaking. 

This development is the result of lengthy and persistent collective efforts involving civil society organizations (CSOs), trade unions, academics, forward-thinking policymakers, and engaged individuals, all instrumental actors in prompting the EU to introduce binding regulations and legal frameworks. Our persistence contributed to the CSDDD proposal, which clearly marks a shift from previously attempted and inevitably unsuccessful voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold, and despite its potential, the CSDDD proposal did not live up to expectations. Pivotal elements were lacking, such as measures that would facilitate access to remedy for victims or clear climate obligations to align with the Paris Agreement goals. 

Nonetheless, the CSDDD proposal created unprecedented advocacy opportunities to engage with policymakers and uphold crucial enhancements that would transform this legislation into a robust tool to hold businesses accountable and for individuals to seek remedy and justice. 

 Victims’ experiences and testimonies were amplified under the Justice is Everybody’s business campaign launched in September 2022.  Through digital engagement and public mobilisation, the movement also allowed citizens to make their voices heard and firmly assert that people’s well-being must always come before profit.  


 Below an excerpt of ECCJ’s work from our 2022 Annual Report:   

  • After combing through each article of the CSDDD draft proposal, ECCJ produced a comprehensive analysis of the text highlighting that the law’s positive impact might be limited by the present loopholes and shortcomings.  
  • ECCJ drafted and coordinated a joint statement signed by more than 220 NGOs and trade unions to welcome the proposal and urge policymakers to strengthen the text.  
  • Thanks to its pan-European membership of over 480 organisations, ECCJ’s assumed a privileged coordinating spot and worked to help consolidate the position and advocacy goals of both EU and national civil society. This included anything from chairing regular meetings to leading the outreach to policy makers    
  • We organised several advocacy events e.g. on environmental due diligence and climate litigation, on due diligence in times of conflict, and on how to strengthen the corporate accountability movement.   
  • And of course, recurrently met with EU and national policy makers to convey the importance of adopting legislation that puts people and the planet at the center of business activities.   
  • ECCJ initiated the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign and joined the citizens’ initiative Good Clothes, Fair Pay.   
  • Our work visibility kept growing: an increase of 70% in press coverage, 126% in newsletter subscribers and more than 52,000 visits to our new website.  

The meaningfulness of future legislation must be assessed to determine how effectively it will prevent harm and provide access to remedy for those who have suffered harm. This is an opportunity for the EU to prioritize people over profit and set the course to align businesses’ conduct with climate goals. 

 In our annual report 2022, you can find a summary of our coalition’s achievements, as well as our activities, resources, impact, and financial and governance information.