EU decision makers have failed victims of corporate abuse and have not provided adequate measures to prevent climate destruction in a JURI vote for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD).
The law designed to hold businesses accountable for the damage they cause to people and planet was published by the European Commission in 2022 and reworked by the European Parliament justice committee (JURI) since then. Despite high hopes after a strong initial draft, their final proposal fails to deliver the necessary access to justice for victims of corporate abuse.
To strengthen victim’s rights, it is crucial that companies have to prove they’ve met their due diligence obligations. Instead, the JURI proposal continues to force victims of corporate abuse to prove that the company failed its due diligence obligations. This has been a major obstacle in court cases against corporations. The new requirement on companies to disclose evidence will not be enough to repair that.
Another obstacle to justice is that parent companies are not automatically liable for subsidiaries that cause harm. In cases like the compensation claim against Shell in the Netherlands for oil spills in Nigeria, it took around 5 years in court to establish that Royal Dutch Shell was responsible for its operations in Nigeria. However, the JURI committee failed to make parent companies automatically liable for their subsidiaries.
Commenting on access to justice, Jill McArdle, corporate accountability campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The international justice system favours corporate interests, it does not work for victims. What the justice committee has done is like putting a bandage on a broken arm. They have failed to stand up for justice.”
And whilst the climate crisis intensifies, the current proposals fall short of delivering a law that serves people and planet.
Even though it includes tougher requirements for corporate climate transition plans, which Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes as a forward step in kickstarting climate due diligence and bringing down corporate climate footprints across the world, it also creates loopholes for companies to argue they do not have to put concrete emission reduction targets in place for 2030 and 2050.
Commenting on the climate provisions, Jill McArdle said: “Citizens, experts and activists are unified in demanding that the EU puts stringent rules on companies to reduce their emissions and climate footprint. The justice committee took strides towards this, but in the end left the door open for corporate greenwashing.”
The JURI committee also failed to explicitly enshrine a comprehensive definition of environmental impacts, including climate change. It only refers to these in the annex, risking that some impacts will be excluded from the final legislation.