Vol. 42 (2022)
General Articles

Towards EU-wide Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence for Business: a Breakthrough in Europe and Beyond?

Izabela Jędrzejowska-Schiffauer
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland
Łukasz Szoszkiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz University
Joseph Wilde-Ramsing
Multinational Enterprises (SOMO) in Amsterdam
Katharine Booth
OECD Watch in Amsterdam
Pauline Barraud de Lagerie
Paris Dauphine – PSL University
Beata Faracik
Polish Institute of Human Rights and Business

Published 2023-06-30

Keywords

  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,
  • human rights due diligence (HRDD),
  • human rights and environmental due diligence,
  • HREDD,
  • corporate accountability

How to Cite

Jędrzejowska-Schiffauer, I., Szoszkiewicz, Łukasz, Wilde-Ramsing, J., Booth, K., Barraud de Lagerie, P., & Faracik, B. (2023). Towards EU-wide Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence for Business: a Breakthrough in Europe and Beyond?. Polish Yearbook of International Law, 42, 245–278. https://doi.org/10.24425/PYIL.2023.147178

Abstract

In March 2022, the European Commission presented its long-awaited legislative proposal on the EU-wide human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) for business. This article argues that the proposed Directive fails to be an effective and innovative legislation in three respects. Firstly, it does not draw lessons from the shortcomings of the to-date regulatory policy relating to business and human rights. It mainly consolidates at the EU level the status quo of extant due diligence legislation in Europe. Secondly, the proposal falls short of the established interna­tional standards and its own objectives insofar as it fails to establish instruments for effectively preventing and remedying human rights and environmental harm. Thirdly, the proposal’s normative preference for process- (rather than result-) oriented HREDD risks reducing it to yet another compliance instrument. Beside amending these shortcomings, to achieve a breakthrough, the upcoming legislation should in any case define HREDD as the legal standard of care; the compliance with which does not per se exclude civil liability. The general negotiation approach of the Council is not proposing much improvement in that regard. The stakes for the European Parliament’s possible role to raise the bar are thus very high.

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