The European Parliament has approved amendments to the EU directive on due diligence, which introduces new obligations for companies regarding respect for human rights and the environment. The text, proposed by the JURI legal committee and voted on Thursday, June 1st during the plenary session of the European Parliament, incorporates the two main requests made by Still I Rise: on the one hand, the mandatory integration of human rights and environmental due diligence in business activities along the entire value chain; on the other hand, the obligation for Member States to set up an independent and external authority to monitor companies’ operations.
«This is an important step forward compared to the proposal of the European Commission,» says Giulia Cicoli, Advocacy Director of Still I Rise. «Both elements are crucial for the prevention and counteraction of human rights violations, especially in high-risk sectors and contexts such as cobalt extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo.» The text also proposes the extension of due diligence requirements to the ICT sector, which plays a crucial role in the cobalt supply chain. Cobalt was included by the EU in the list of "critical raw materials", as they are fundamental to the energy transition. «The energy transition must take place with full respect for human rights, and supply chain oversight is essential in this regard,» adds Cicoli.
Despite the progress made, there are still significant issues remaining in the text approved by the EU Parliament. In particular, a number of human rights violations are not mentioned, such as the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable work environment or the right to freedom of movement.
«Their exclusion from monitoring risks thwarting prevention efforts, which could lead to more abuses» Cicoli says. After the vote in the EU Parliament, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive will now be negotiated by industry ministers within the European Council. «The approach of the Council raises concerns because their proposal is worsening compared to the text approved today,» concludes Giulia Cicoli. «It is time for companies to clean their supply chain and make sure there are no abuses. We will monitor to ensure that the improvements made by the European Parliament are not erased.» (Press release)