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EU member states block historic opportunity to set binding rules obliging companies to behave responsibly


28 Feb 2024



Today, member states have decided to turn a blind eye to the people and the planet. In a vote taking place at the EU Council, member states have blocked the final adoption of binding rules ensuring that businesses behave responsibly.

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament deplore that member states are blocking an agreement that was reached in a democratic process last December(opens in a new tab), after negotiations they have been involved in since the very beginning.

The result of today’s vote contradicts the EU Council’s repeated calls for due diligence legislation, its original and revised mandates for an EU due diligence directive, and its position throughout the negotiation process up until December. The inexplicable lurches and shuffles of certain member states profoundly undermine the trust in the role of some national governments in negotiations at EU level. 

Irresponsible business practices have cost thousands of lives and destroyed thousands of livelihoods. If adopted, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive would have been the first legislation worldwide to hold large companies responsible for violations of human rights and environmental standards – such as child labour, labour exploitation, pollution and biodiversity loss – in their global value chains.

Lara Wolters, European Parliament rapporteur for due diligence, said:

“We deplore EU members’ decision to not stick to their initial commitments, reached last December. With such a decision, member states are protecting all those companies that prefer not to take a close look at what is happening in their global supply chains and for whom decent working conditions are merely an inconvenient cost and not a moral obligation.

“Child labour in Congo to extract cobalt for our smartphones, rainforest degradation in Brazil for soy ending up in our supermarkets: these are just two examples of irresponsible business practices that still happen in today’s world, with a particular impact on the most vulnerable. We cannot turn a blind eye, especially when the result of their supply chains ends up in our supermarkets, our closets or in the smartphones and computers that we use in our daily lives.

“Today’s rejection is purely ideologically motivated and is the will of member states to play political games ahead of the European elections.

“The S&D Group proudly initiated this fight more than three years ago with a Parliament's own-initiative report to protect the dignity of the most vulnerable and to ensure the protection of our environment. And we delivered what we promised! We urge the Council to stick to its commitments and find a solution to resolve this issue before the end of the current mandate.”

Note to editor:

Follow the EP press conference by Lara Wolters(opens in a new tab), S&D Member and EP rapporteur on corporate sustainability due diligence directive, today at 16:00.