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S&Ds: from factory to fitting room; companies selling in the EU must take care of people and planet before profits


23 Feb 2022



Almost a year after a large majority of the European Parliament backed ambitious and binding rules for companies to identify and mitigate their human rights  and environmental impact, the European Commission is finally publishing the draft EU law on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, otherwise known as ‘due diligence.’

In March 2021, S&D MEP Lara Wolters led Parliament in sending a strong message to the Commission that voluntary guidance on due diligence must be replaced by mandatory EU-wide rules that apply to the entire value chain of companies selling in the internal market. The S&D Group has spent years calling for EU rules that force companies to identify the risks they pose to human rights, the environment and good governance, and to mitigate or stop any activities that are likely to cause harm.

The S&D Group has also campaigned for victims to be able to seek justice from a company which has failed to conduct due diligence and caused harm. The act of carrying out due diligence should not absolve companies of their legal responsibilities.

S&D MEP Lara Wolters will take part in an online briefing for journalists today at 12pm. Any journalists interested in attending can contact for more details.

Lara Wolters, S&D MEP and Parliament lead on the corporate due diligence report, said:

“Not a week goes by without newspapers reporting on companies involved in oil spills, deforestation, bribery, land grabbing or forced labour - to name but a few examples. After waiting so long, we have high expectations for the Commission today. Responsible business conduct must become the norm in the EU. With countries like France and Germany already pressing ahead with their own rules, the EU risks being behind the curve when it comes to protecting people and the planet, rather than short-term profits. 

“The S&D Group has spent years pushing for more corporate accountability and transparency. There are 450 million consumers in the EU and we need to use the power of our market to make a difference.

“Companies need to know who their suppliers are, from factory to fitting room. They must look for and address harm in their value chains, and this includes compensating victims of corporate wrongdoing.  

“For new rules to be truly effective, it is vital to involve civil society and trade unions, as well as introduce robust liability provisions and access to justice for victims. Human rights and environmental due diligence need to be more than just a box-ticking exercise for business. At the same time, we need to help the businesses that already take their responsibility by providing a level playing field with clear rules, and making sure that those who don’t take an interest in their value chains no longer have a competitive advantage.”