Parliamentarians worldwide demand stronger EU commitments against human rights and environmental corporate abuse

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

All over the world, unregulated globalization and unchecked corporate predation over people, workers and natural resources are causing massive human rights violations and environmental harm.

Rogue transnational companies, most of which are located in the Global North, take advantage of legal gaps, weak enforcement of rules and insufficient international cooperation to profit from abuse mostly committed in the Global South. The voluntary standards adopted thus far by companies and States have proved largely inefficient to prevent and adequately address human rights and environmental harm.

On the 23rd of February, the European Commission published its long awaited proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. To the dismay of many parliamentarians, civil society and victims of corporate abuse, the proposal contains too many major loopholes to address corporate human rights and environmental abuses. This proposal represents a victory for corporate lobbies who succeeded in stripping the proposal of its teeth.

The European Commission proposed legislation is a far cry from the degree of scrutiny of supply chains demanded by the European Parliament In March 2021. The resolution adopted by the European Parliament called for an ambitious European legislation that would require companies to address and account for the human rights and environmental harm occurring in their entire value chain.

The resolution also called on the European Union to adopt a mandate and get actively involved in the ongoing negotiations of UN the Human Rights Council for an international instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights. The proposition by the European Commission falls short of those objectives.

It is highly disappointing that the approach chosen by the Commission deviates from current international standards, severely restricts companies’ obligations and accountability, and fails to address victims’ barriers to access justice. In particular, it relies disproportionately on contractual assurances and offers a quasi-immunity for undertakings that have put in place generic contractual clauses, regardless of the actual efforts made to prevent and address harm.

This reliance on contractual clauses and the restriction of corporate responsibility to “established business relationships” de facto limits corporate obligations to a very small portion of their value chains. Combined with a narrow scope covering only very large companies and few large companies in high risk sectors, the proposed directive would fail to address most human rights and environmental abuse in European companies’ value chains.

Finally, the proposal doesn’t address well-known obstacles for victims to access justice such as the allocation of the burden of proof, the need to prove strict causality between a breach of due diligence obligations and the harm suffered, the lack of access to evidence or the allocation of legal costs.

We, former and current members of parliaments from all continents, underline the urgency to significantly address the massive and systemic human rights and environmental harms occurring in corporate value chains.

We urge the European Commission, the Member States and the European Parliament to address the severe loopholes of the European Commission’s proposal and work toward a Directive that can effectively prevent and address corporate abuse and provide access to justice for victims.

In that regard, we underline that legislators should better take into consideration relevant international standards and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in March 2021.

We also stress that international cooperation is essential and urge the European Union to engage constructively into the ongoing negotiations at the UN Human Rights Council for an international binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights.

  1. Manon Aubry, Co-chair of The Left in the European Parliament
  2. Ubaldo Aita, Member of the Parliament of Uruguay
  3. François Alfonsi, Member of the European Parliament
  4. Martha Lisbeth Alfonso Jurado, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  5. Maria Arena, Member of the European Parliament
  6. Wilson Arias Castillo, Member of the Senate of Colombia
  7. Gabriela Barreiro, Member of the Parliament of Uruguay
  8. Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament
  9. Gabriel Becerra Yañez, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  10. Benoit Biteau, Member of the European Parliament
  11. Malin Björk, Member of the European Parliament
  12. Frances Black, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  13. Manuel Bompard, Member of the European Parliament
  14. Marc Johan Botenga, Member of the European Parliament
  15. Richard Boyd Barrett, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  16. Milan Brglez, Member of the European Parliament
  17. Miguel Ángel Bustamante Martín , Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  18. Andrés Cancimance López, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  19. Ricardo Canese, Member of the Mercosur Parliament
  20. Damien Carême, Member of the European Parliament
  21. Leïla Chaibi, Member of the European Parliament
  22. Antoni Comín i Oliveres, Member of the European Parliament
  23. David Cormand, Member of the European Parliament
  24. Clare Daly, Member of the European Parliament
  25. Maria Dantas, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  26. Marisa De Simón, Member of the Parliamnet of Navarre
  27. Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Member of the European Parliament
  28. Lorena Delgado Varas, Member of the Riksdag of Sweden
  29. Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament
  30. Eduardo Eduardo Nelson Nicoletti, Member of the Mercosur Parliament
  31. Gloria Elizo Serrano, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  32. Xavier Eritja Ciuró, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  33. Nacho Escartín Lasierra, Member of the Congress of Aragon
  34. Oihana Etxebarrieta, Member of the Basque Parliament
  35. Lilian Galan, Member of the Parliament of Uruguay
  36. Raphaël Glucksmann, Member of the European Parliament
  37. Susana Gómez Castaño, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  38. Jessica González Herrera, Member of the Parliament of Catalonia
  39. Inés Granollers Cunillera, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  40. Matthew Green, Member of the House of Commons of Canada
  41. Claude Gruffat, Member of the European Parliament
  42. Txema Guijarro García, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  43. José Gusmão, Member of the European Parliament
  44. Anja Hazekamp, Member of the European Parliament
  45. Pedro Antonio Honrubia Hurtado, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  46. Yannick Jadot, Member of the European Parliament
  47. Pablo Jesús Jiménez Fernández , Member of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands
  48. Gino Kenny, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  49. Petros Kokkalis, Member of the European Parliament
  50. Stelios Kouloglou, Member of the European Parliament
  51. Aurore Lalucq, Member of the European Parliament
  52. Pierre Larrouturou, Member of the European Parliament
  53. Juantxo López de Uralde , Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  54. Chris MacManus, Member of the European Parliament
  55. Roser Maestro Moliner, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  56. Enzo Malan, Member of the Parliament of Uruguay
  57. Íñigo Martínez Zatón, Member of the Basque Parliament
  58. Marisa Matias, Member of the European Parliament
  59. Cristina Mayor Abad, Member of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands
  60. Lisa Mazzone, Member of the Swiss Parliament
  61. Nora Mebarek, Member of the European Parliament
  62. Fernanda Melchionna e Silva, Member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies
  63. Silvia Modig, Member of the European Parliament
  64. Alfredo Mondragón Garzón , Member of the Congress of Colombia
  65. Agustín Moreno, Member of the Assembly of Madrid
  66. Luz Maria Munera Medina, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  67. Paul Murphy, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  68. Anne-Sophie Pelletier, Member of the European Parliament
  69. Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament
  70. Manu Pineda, Member of the European Parliament
  71. María Pita Cardenes, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  72. Clara Ponsatí i Obiols, Member of the European Parliament
  73. Dominique Potier, Member of the French National Assembly
  74. Thomas Pringle, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  75. Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, Member of the European Parliament
  76. Evelyn Regner, Member of the European Parliament
  77. Sira Abed Rego, Member of the European Parliament
  78. Michèle Rivasi, Member of the European Parliament
  79. María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Member of the European Parliament
  80. Caroline Roose, Member of the European Parliament
  81. Helder Salomão, Member otf the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies
  82. Jordi Salvador i Duch, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  83. Sol Sánchez, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  84. Ismael Sánchez Castillo , Member of the Parliament of Andalusia
  85. Charles Santiago, Member of the Malaysian Parliament
  86. Enrique Santiago Romero, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  87. Eduard Sarmiento Hidalgo, Member of the Congress of Colombia
  88. Mounir Satouri, Member of the European Parliament
  89. Carsten Schatz, Member of the Parliament of Berlin
  90. Martin Schirdewan, Member of the European Parliament
  91. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament
  92. Brid Smith, Member of the Oireachtas of Ireland
  93. Håkan Svenneling, Member of the Riksdag of Sweden
  94. Marc Tarabella, Member of the European Parliament
  95. José Alberto Tejada Echeverri , Member of the Congress of Colombia
  96. Sylvain Thevoz, Member of the Swiss Parliament
  97. Marie Toussaint, Member of the European Parliament
  98. Miguel Urbán Crespo, Member of the European Parliament
  99. Roberto Uriarte, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  100. Alirio Uribe Muñoz , Member of the Congress of Colombia
  101. Ernest Urtasun, Member of the European Parliament
  102. Lammert van Raan, Member of the Dutch House of Representatives
  103. Aina Vidal Sáez, Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies
  104. Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, Member of the European Parliament
  105. Nikolaj Villumsen, Member of the European Parliament
  106. Mick Wallace, Member of the European Parliament
  107. Lara Wolters, Member of the European Parliament


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