European Parliament champions new business law to protect people and planet

One step closer to a world where people and planet come before profit

The European Parliament
The European Parliament – image by Guillaume Périgois

On 10 March, a large majority of members of the European Parliament supported a report setting out a proposal for a new law that will mean that businesses must protect people and the environment in their global operations and supply chains.

We know that slavery and environmental harm needn’t be inevitable consequences of doing business. It’s time we make sure Europe’s supermarket shelves, boutiques and websites are completely free from goods made through forced labour and child labour. The European Parliament’s vote showed us that there is political will to do much better and hold companies to account for abuses.

What next?

The report sends a strong signal to the European Commission on what key elements the European Parliament expects in the upcoming legislation. It calls for the introduction of mandatory corporate due diligence to require companies to prevent abuses, and to provide access to justice and remediation for victims when harms occur.

Now that MEPs have made their intentions clear, it’s critically important that the EU Commission builds on the European Parliament’s report to design any new legislation. This needs to move quickly so that the most robust law can be designed with the greatest possible protections against harm. The Commission must make sure that the proposed law:

  • Apply to all businesses, regardless of industry or size;
  • Apply to businesses’ entire operations (their value chains);
  • Covers all types of environmental and human rights harms that companies can cause;
  • Mandates meaningful and effective consultations with everyone affected and potentially affected by corporate harm, including workers, communities and their representatives; and
  • Includes strong provisions to enforce the law, hold companies liable for harm and enable genuine access to justice for victims.

The EU stands to lead the kind of global recovery that we have all been waiting for: one that puts people and the planet before profit. The European Parliament’s support for better laws is positive news, but it marks the beginning of more hard work. We must see laws that properly protect people and the planet, that guarantee businesses are held accountable, and that are properly implemented and enforced. We now look to the European Commission to make this happen.

At Anti-Slavery International, we know that change only happens when we pull together, so we continue to work in unison with the following organisations in calling for the changes we hope will help bring freedom to everyone, everywhere, always.

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