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EU: New European business human rights law passes crucial vote

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Reacting to the EU Council reaching an agreement today on new business human rights legislation, known as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), Amnesty International’s Policy Advisor on Business and Human Rights, Hannah Storey, said:

“Today’s vote in the EU Council is an important moment for the advancement of human rights. Nonetheless it is disappointing that this legislation has been significantly watered down by some member states at an unusually late stage in the EU legislative process.

Today’s vote in the EU Council is an important moment for the advancement of human rights. Nonetheless it is disappointing that this legislation has been significantly watered down by some member states.

Hannah Storey, Amnesty International’s Policy Advisor on Business and Human Rights

“While it is a relief that the legislation has survived attempts to kill it off completely, some states have eroded the text so that the CSDDD in its current form falls short of original aspirations. It will now only apply to the very largest businesses, meaning almost 70 per cent of the companies it would have covered in its previous draft will now be exempt.

“Although the scope of companies covered has been reduced, this legislation remains a vital step toward establishing the principle in EU law that businesses must address human rights risks in their operations and value chains. The legislation as framed still provides an important route to justice via European courts for victims of corporate harm, such as those suffering labour abuses, forced evictions, or from pollution.

“EU legislators must now ensure the swift approval of this legislation before the EU elections later this year, and then fully and rigorously implement and enforce the law.”

Background

The EU Council voted earlier today to pass the CSDDD which is understood to apply to only the very largest organizations – with more than 1,000 employees and annual turnover of more than 450 million euros – doing business in Europe.

The legislation agreed by the EU Council today is expected be put to another vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs next week, and is subject to a further vote in the European Parliament in April, before becoming law.

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