EU: Tip the scales to put people and the planet before profits

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EnvironmentLaw & PolicySupply Chain

Image credit: Philip Reynaers / Photonews / Justice is Everybody’s Business

Time is up for companies profiting from modern slavery and environmental destruction in their global value chains. The E.U. is preparing a new due diligence law, and together with 100 other civil society and trade union organizations, the Freedom United community is mobilizing to ensure the legislation can effectively hold companies accountable. 

Activists have taken to the streets of Brussels to make our demands clear. On September 6, the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign launched with a bang. Coalition members set up a 3-meter set of scales, showing the current prioritization of corporate profit over human rights and climate justice. E.U. personnel and members of the public interacted with the display to demonstrate that people power can tip the scales.  

Justice is Everybodys Business

Philip Reynaers / Photonews / Justice is Everybody’s Business

This stunt is just the beginning. The Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign is in it for the long haul, determined to push for a strong E.U. law. Will you join the campaign?

The E.U. Due Diligence Law 

Last February, the European Commission unveiled its proposal for an E.U. law requiring large companies to conduct checks on their investments and supply chains to identify, prevent and address human rights and environmental risks and impacts within and outside the E.U. 

This proposal was long overdue. Although some member states, like Germany and France, have national human rights due diligence laws, they fail to fully protect people and the planet from the impact of European business operations.  

While we were happy to see the E.U. take on the challenge of holding business accountable, the proposal left much to be desired. Dangerous loopholes had been baked in that would enable companies to escape accountability.  

For example, in its proposed form, the law would fail to prevent harm beyond the first tier of the supply chain. This is unacceptable as it would do nothing for the workers and communities involved in earlier stages of goods production, like the children who are exploited on some cocoa farms in West Africa or the families mining for mica while trapped in debt bondage 

The proposal also fails to adequately empower people who have been negatively impacted by harmful business practices to seek justice in E.U. courts. Instead of removing barriers for people trying to file lawsuits against companies, the current proposal enables corporations to continue evading responsibility. 

Claudia Saller, director at the European Coalition for Corporate Justice said:

The dominant business model of ‘profit is king’ is killing our present and our future. When people come together as a counterweight, we can tip the scales of power. Otherwise EU leaders will only hear what big corporate lobbies tell them.

Justice is Everybody’s Business 

We believe that justice is everybody’s business. So we will not stand by as corporate lobbyists water down this legislation. We’re taking action. Check out the campaign website.

The Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign is calling for a law that: 

  1. Makes companies respect human rights, the environment and the climate.
  2. Puts strict, no-nonsense obligations on companies to prevent and end harm.
  3. Holds parent companies responsible in court for harm that happens anywhere in their supply chain. No loopholes!
  4. Guarantees collective bargaining by trade unions and gives workers’ representatives a real say in due diligence, every step of the way.
  5. Tackles the climate crisis by making companies slash emissions throughout their value chains.
  6. Protects the planet by holding companies accountable for all possible harms to the environment.
  7. Applies due diligence requirements to all business relationships along their value chains.
  8. Empowers people harmed by bad business practices, trade unions, and civil society to get justice in EU courts.
  9. Consults everyone who is, or may be affected by business activities, and obtains consent when needed.
  10. Gives enforcement agencies the power to thoroughly investigate and sanction companies.

Demands

Demands 2

How you can get involved 

If you believe that people and the planet should be prioritized over corporate profits, we need your voice! You can get involved today by: 

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.