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Less than a month ago, in February 2022, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence.
The proposal aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains.
Companies play a key role in building a sustainable economy and society. They will be required to identify and, where necessary, prevent, end or mitigate adverse impacts of their activities on human rights, such as child labour and exploitation of workers, and on the environment, for example pollution and biodiversity loss. For businesses these new rules will bring legal certainty and a level playing field. For consumers and investors they will provide more transparency. The new EU rules will advance the green transition and protect human rights in Europe and beyond.
A number of Members States have already introduced national rules on due diligence and some companies have taken measures at their own initiative. However, there is need for a larger scale improvement that is difficult to achieve with voluntary action. This proposal establishes a corporate sustainability due diligence duty to address negative human rights and environmental impacts.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are not directly in the scope of this proposal.
The proposal also includes, accompanying measures, which will support all companies, including SMEs, that may be indirectly affected. Measures include the development of individually or jointly dedicated websites, platforms or portals and potential financial support for SMEs. In order to provide support to companies the Commission may adopt guidance, including about model contract clauses. The Commission may also complement the support provided by Member States with new measures, including helping companies in third countries.