On 25 April 2023 the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament voted to adopt its amendments to the European Commission’s proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which aims to establish a corporate due diligence duty, introduce directors’ duties and make businesses accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment. The JURI Committee’s report strengthens the Commission’s December 2022 proposal on several fronts.
NGOs around the world had highlighted the need to strengthen the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and smallholders in the Commission’s draft text.
The approved JURI Committee report integrates – partially – the plea of NGOs and civil society organisations (from within and outside the EU) to step up the protection of these vulnerable groups, who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
The JURI Committee’s report is a step in the right direction. It would require companies to assess the potential or actual adverse impacts that their operations may have on human rights and the environment; the report includes the more desirable ‘living income’, in addition to living wage, as a human right to be respected.
Moreover, the JURI Committee’s report (Annex 19.a) proposes to substantially improve the coverage of the internationally recognised rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Provisions on meaningful stakeholders’ engagement were also significantly strengthened, and now go beyond mere consultation.
Unfortunately, the request for explicit protection of local communities – who differ legally from Indigenous Peoples – and particularly for the protection of local communities’ land rights, was not taken into account. Weak obligations for the financial sector are also a disappointment.
It is hoped that the JURI Committee report will survive the plenary vote of the European Parliament on 1 June without being watered down; this would give the European Parliament a strong mandate to keep ambitions strong in the upcoming trilogue negotiations.
Category: Forest Watch