WJI2030 Insights Newsletter: Dec 2022

European Union Legal and Regulatory Updates

By Céline da Graça Pires ​Manager, Human Rights​ BSR (Paris)​ and Laura Uhlmann​ Manager, Consumer Sectors & Sustainability Management​
BSR (Copenhagen)​

In the EU, the trend towards legislating human rights is making human rights a business imperative. For example, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which is currently under negotiation and will require companies operating in the EU to report on human rights and environmental due diligence efforts from 2026-2028 onwards, is expected to drive an increase in human rights disclosure and corporate transparency. At the same time, the rise in human rights related litigation means that companies are becoming increasingly accountable for ensuring – and conducting due diligence to ensure – that human rights are respected in their own operations and supply chains, and that they are accurate and forthcoming in reporting on their human rights impacts. 

European Parliament publishes updated draft of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) (link) 

Amidst continued negotiations on the scope of the CSDDD, a new iteration of the current Directive was published on November 7. The main changes from the previous draft include the removal of the “established business relationship” concept, and the inclusion of good governance in addition to human rights and environmental impacts. Simultaneously, companies and civil society organizations are calling on the European Parliament to strengthen the legislative proposal with regards to obligations applying to the financial sector. 

European Parliament adopts the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) (link 

On November 10, members of the European Parliament confirmed the agreement that they reached over the summer to strengthen companies’ obligations to disclose information on their impacts on the environment and society. The new rules aim to address shortcomings in existing legislation by introducing more detailed reporting requirements, based on common criteria aligned to the EU’s climate goals. Member States will now have to incorporate these changes into national legislation. 

Anti-Slavery International, European Center for Constitutional Human Rights (ECCHR), and the Greens publish a model law on Forced Labor (link) 

The purpose of the model law is to provide guidance to key policymakers working on the proposal on key elements that must be included in an upcoming EU Regulation. It was drafted based on an analysis of existing or proposed mechanisms under EU law, and the US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), identifying specific areas that could be adapted or considered in the design of a forced labor prohibition instrument. The EU’s proposed Forced Labor Instrument was also considered in the analysis as it was published during the drafting process of the model law.  

European Parliament votes to adopt position on draft EU law on deforestation-free products (link) 

Rights groups have called the EU Parliament’s adoption of its negotiating position an improvement from the European Commission’s position, which they had criticized for “watering down” the proposal, for example by reducing enforcement responsibilities on member states. One notable improvement that civil society pointed out in the European Parliament’s proposal is the inclusion of a requirement to respect international human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The position will now be taken to negotiations with EU member states.