Open letter to EC President von der Leyen – CIDSE

Open letter to EC President von der Leyen

It is time for you to show leadership on the Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative

Today, CIDSE and a coalition of civil society organisations wrote to the European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, about the delayed proposal for a Sustainable Corporate Governance Directive. The Directive, announced by Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, would mandate human rights and environmental due diligence for companies based and operating in Europe and might include provisions to recognise the legal liability of companies when they harm people or the environment throughout their value chains.

The proposal Directive was expected during the first half of December, after having failed to meet a previous deadline in June and a second in October. The reason behind the delay appears to be a second failure of the impact assessment for the proposal by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB). The RSB, an unelected institution, must assess the impact assessments for legislative proposals. If an impact assessment fails the RSB twice, the legislative proposal can only advance with the support of the Commission’s Vice-President for institutional affairs. However, official communication on the topic from the Commission is lacking.

In their letter the signatories state that “this unexplained delay risks undermining the trust that European citizens, local and international civil society and trade union organisations, workers and victims of corporate abuse have placed in the EU to regulate sustainable and responsible business in the wake of the COVID pandemic and of the climate and biodiversity crisis.” They also call on Mrs. von der Leyen to uphold her commitment to submit a “robust and well balanced” proposal in 2021.

CIDSE, its members and allies have been advocating for an EU law to enable justice for victims of corporate abuse for years. In 2020, more than 230 Bishops signed a statement calling for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence. This year, multiple human rights and environmental defenders wrote to Commissioners Breton and Reynders to ask for such law. CIDSE and its members also launched the “Access to Justice” campaign, calling on citizens to write to their MEPs to ask for a strong EU law to stop corporate abuse.

See also joint statement on delay to EC’s Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative co-signed by CIDSE, 15 December 2021.

Photo credit: Dati Bendo, Wikimedia Commons

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