UNI Europa and UNI Global Union strongly welcome the publication of the European Commission study into due diligence practices, and urges action to legislate mandatory due diligence rules across the European Union.
“This study is an important step towards mandatory due diligence for the EU. With such conclusive evidence, we add UNI’s voice to the call on the EU to act swiftly to begin the process for the much-needed legislation to protect against human rights abuses,” said UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig.
“We see far too many companies who prefer to ignore the widespread neglect and abuse of workers’ rights across their operations, Christy Hoffman, UNI’s General Secretary. “Due diligence is an important tool in the landscape of corporate accountability and mandatory rules are an essential development. Companies should be required to map their risks, take steps to avoid them, and ensure access to remedy. In our view enhanced access to justice must also be part of any meaningful regulation.”
The study, conducted by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) in partnership with Civic Consulting and LSE Consulting, firmly reinforces the need for mandatory due diligence regulation. It shows that voluntary measures simply are not working to protect workers, communities, and the environment. This becomes especially clear through the evidence that the negative human rights and environmental impacts linked to the global value chains of businesses and financial institutions are persistent and worsening.
The study was conducted through a broad consultation with both civil society and business. It found there is a consensus amongst stakeholders – including trade unions, civil society and the majority of business – that the current system of due diligence requirements is “not effective, efficient and coherent.” Only just over one-third of the businesses participating in the study “undertake due diligence taking into account all human rights and environmental impacts.”
For the companies that are already conducting due diligence, they see a need for regulation to mainstream good practices. More than 70% of businesses agreed that EU regulation may benefit business by creating a level playing field.
UNI Global and UNI Europa stand along with civil society organisations welcoming this study, and have signed a joint statement with over 100 civil society organisations to demand human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.