What’s the issue?
EU lawmakers in the JURI committee of the European Parliament adopted with a large majority the report from MEP Lara Wolters on the proposed corporate accountability rules on April 25th, 2023.
The corporate sustainability due diligence directive (CSDD) was proposed by the European Commission in February 2022 to ensure companies are responsible for human rights and environmental breaches along their value chain. The proposed legislation would oblige large companies with a turnover of more than €150 million and smaller companies active in risk sectors to identify, prevent, and mitigate human rights abuses and environmental violations in their value chain.
The final vote in the European Parliament Plenary is expected to take place on June 1st, thus paving the way for a quick final adoption of the proposal when Council, Parliament and Commission agree in the interinstitutional negotiations.
Firms would be obliged to identify, and where necessary prevent, end or mitigate the negative impact of their activities, including that of their business partners, on human rights and the environment. This includes child labour, slavery, labour exploitation, pollution, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
Companies would also be required to evaluate their value-chain partners when carrying out their “due diligence”, MEPs say. This should include not only suppliers, but also activities related to sale, distribution and transport. Adverse impact would have to be mitigated and remedied by adapting the company’s business model, providing support to SMEs or seeking contractual assurances.
MEPs extended the application of the new rules, compared to the Commission proposal, to include EU-based companies with more than 250 employees and a worldwide turnover higher than 40 million euro, as well as parent companies over 500 employees and a worldwide turnover higher than 150 million euro. The rules would also apply to non-EU companies with a turnover higher than 150 million euro if at least 40 million was generated in the EU.
Non-compliant companies should be liable for damages and EU governments would establish supervisory authorities with the power to impose sanctions. MEPs want fines to be at least 5% of the net worldwide turnover and to ban non-compliant third-country companies from public procurement.
To facilitate compliance, Member States would set up a national helpdesk and the Commission would prepare detailed guidelines.
According to the adopted text, companies would have to engage with people affected by their actions, including human rights defenders and environmental activists, introduce a grievance mechanism and monitor the effectiveness of their due diligence policy.
To help combat climate change, all company directors would be obliged to implement a transition plan compatible with a global warming limit of 1.5°C. Directors of companies with over 1000 employees will be directly responsible for this step, which in turn will affect the variable parts of their pay, such as bonuses.
Source: European Parliament News