IndustriAll Europe has long called for a paradigm shift in the way multinational companies are governed: away from short-term and purely financial perspectives that serve shareholders at the expense of people and the planet, towards sustainable strategic management, driven by social dialogue and benefiting all in the long term. Responsible business conduct can only be achieved under three interlinked conditions: transparency by companies about their business models; democracy in developing corporate strategies by informing, consulting and bargaining with trade unions; and accountability of companies to society for their actions.
However, decades of soft law regulation through codes of conduct, charters or “comply or explain” mechanisms have however failed to anchor socially responsible management in the DNA of companies.
"More than ever we need guarantees that the transition of Europe’s industries and the strategies that multinational companies develop to adapt to multiple challenges deliver good industrial jobs and leave no one behind. A strong EU legal framework is needed. Not next year, not in five years, but NOW! IndustriAll Europe urges EU policymakers to not wait another month before making responsible business conduct mandatory” says Isabelle Barthès, Acting Joint General Secretary.
Over the past two years, several EU initiatives have been put on the table, adopted or announced as “coming soon”, with the aim of progressing towards mandatory responsible business conduct in Europe. However, industriAll Europe is sounding the alarm as massive setbacks are currently gaining traction as European debates have recently moved in the opposite direction, resulting in stalling progress or attempts to weakening major EU actions on mandatory due diligence, fair trade, reporting obligations or social dialogue in companies.
Against this background, at the meeting of its Company Policy Committee on 14 November 2023, industriAll Europe adopted an emergency declaration, urging EU policymakers to commit without further delay to:
- Fostering transparent companies by withdrawing plans to reduce reporting obligations and to postpone the full implementation of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive
- Fostering democracy in companies by adopting a legally binding legislative proposal for the EWC Directive which includes clear rules on enforcement, access to justice and sanctions.
- Fostering corporate accountability by adopting an effective EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which must apply to all companies, in all sectors, all along the supply chains, to secure the respect of workers’, human and environmental rights, thanks to the full involvement of trade unions, genuine civil liability and victims’ access to justice. EU policymakers must also strongly push for the adoption of the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights at the earliest convenience.
- Fostering corporate accountability by adopting an ambitious EU Regulation prohibiting products made with forced labour on the EU market.
- IndustriAll Europe's demands for mandatory responsible business conduct: EN, DE, FR
- European trade union demands for a modern European Works Council Directive EN FR
- European trade unions and NGO coalition’s demands regarding the Regulation on “prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market’ EN