With growing public pressure for corporate accountability, 80 organisations address Reynders – CIDSE

With growing public pressure for corporate accountability, 80 organisations address Reynders

This week, CIDSE is advocating for corporate accountability through several initiatives: a policy brief, a letter to Commissioner Reynders, and a call supported by local authorities. More information on the different initiatives are provided below. 

During the week of the 8th of March the European Parliament will be voting in plenary on an important legislative initiative report (INL). The report calls on the European Commission to table a proposal introducing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for businesses operating in the EU, including legal liability for those who caused harm throughout their value chains. This legislation would be a milestone to ensure that people and the planet are protected from the potential negative impacts of corporate activities. 

 CIDSE and its French member CCFD–Terre Solidaire just released a policy brief describing the initiatives and actors calling for corporate due diligence in national and international law, including Pope Francis, more than 230 Catholic bishops worldwide, human rights defenders, non-governmental-organisations, activists and parliamentarians.  

CIDSE and 79 organisations have written a letter today to European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders to ask that upcoming legislation include enhanced due diligence for companies operating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas, in compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law.  

This legislation would mean moving away from the “outdated 20th Century model of trade that has failed the planet” well exemplified by the agreement on the EU-Mercosur trade deal.  As it stands, this agreement “serves corporate interests at the expense of planetary boundaries and animal welfare, and drives untenable social inequalities”, as CIDSE and a growing number of signatories have pointed out in a recent call to stop this unacceptable deal. 

European law alone will not be enough. In the words of Pope Francis: “Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else (…) no government can act without regard for shared responsibility. The fragmentation and globalisation of corporate activities and value chains mean that an international and multilateral effort is needed to enshrine the primacy of human rights into law” (Evangelii Gaudium – 206).  

The call for corporate accountability also comes strongly from local authorities. CCFD-Terre Solidaire and CIDSE, together with the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Justicia Ambiental (Mozambique), are supporting the statement of more than 580 local authorities from cities worldwide in favor of the establishment of a UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations with respect to Human Rights.   

 The EU is a powerful market player. A strong, united European voice in support of due diligence and corporate accountability would improve the lives of millions of people, set a level playing field for European corporations and all of their subsidiaries, influence the global market standards, and reassure European citizens of the ethical origin of the products we consume.  

The EU must engage actively at the UN level while also enshrining corporate accountability into law in Brussels. The European Commission can no longer stand on the sideline and observe the UN Treaty process. This historic moment of multiple crises calls for ambitious answers on all fronts.  

Additional reading: 

EP Committee vote on Due Diligence: A step in the right direction, further improvements needed“, civil society statement, January 2021 

Catholic organisations and the Church in the EU welcome European legislative initiative on human rights and environmental due diligence” CIDSE, COMECE, Justice and Peace Commission Europe, Pax Christi International joint press release, February 2021 

NEW: “Civil society calls on MEPs to support corporate accountability in key plenary vote, 5 March 2021

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