The incoming German EU Presidency has listed this file as one of their top priorities in the field. This is in line with their long-standing interest to the issue of due diligence and corporate social responsibility, which they had tabled during their Presidency of the G7 in 2015 and G20 in 2017. The German government wants an EU legislation on the issue and they would welcome the EESC opinion. They are encouraged by the launch of a Commission study on Sustainable supply chains back in January 2020. They would ideally like to present the EESC opinion during their high-level conference scheduled on 6-7 October 2020.
Binding UN treaty on business and human rights (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
Social, human rights, and environmental impacts from mandatory due diligence as a legal duty of care are expected to be significant
The EESC opinion could examine, inter alia, the definition of "company interest", the scope of companies and enterprises to which the eventual due diligence legislation should apply, the scope of the due diligence obligations, the role of the board and its members, the identification and setting of standards, liability for failure to fulfil due diligence obligations, the role of Member States in ensuring the effective fulfilment of the due diligence obligation.
The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.
The 2030 Agenda, the new global framework for sustainable development agreed by the UN in 2015, needs to be reflected in EU's development policy, the major orientations of which are set out in the 2005 European Consensus on Development ("the Consensus").
To this end, the Commission issued Communication COM(2016) 740, "Proposal for a New European Consensus on Development: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future" in November 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to result in its endorsement in the form of a Joint Statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in May 2017.
The EU acknowledges the increasing importance of including the EU and partner countries' companies in the GSCs. It is also emphasised that the current interdependence of the economies may further increase due to the recently negotiated and implemented EU trade and investment agreements, as well as negotiations at the WTO. The EESC also recommends cooperation between international organisations and other relevant stakeholders. This would include adopting a common language and common definitions of elements related to global value chains, GSCs and decent work, and comparison and assessment of the statistical data between the various stakeholders, such as the OECD, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), WTO, the European Commission, the World Bank and IFM. This should help avoid confusion and misinterpretation, and support elaboration of a coherent policy between diverse public bodies involved.