Written by 15 h 57 min Advocacy, Environment and Climate, Front page, Press release-en, Strengthening corporate accountability advocacy

Directive on corporate Due Diligence: Conservative MEPs go against citizens’ expectations

Paris, 12 April 2023Two weeks before a decisive vote is due to take place at the European Parliament on the Corporate sustainability Due Diligence Directive, new poll reveals that the vast majority of Europeans wants companies operating in the EU to be legally bound to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This request is supported by a call from over 200 civil society organisations and ecological activists as well as an expert statement. This citizens’ call comes at a time when conservative MEPs put pressure on the negotiations in an attempt to weaken company’s obligations on the businesses, particularly with regard to environment and climate issues.

New polling across 10 EU countries [1] reveals that European citizens support an ambitious European legislation on corporate due diligence. This legislation, if adopted, would compel companies operating in the EU to take real and effective measures in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Similarly to the French law on the duty of vigilance, adopted in 2017, the draft directive, which is currently being debated in the European parliament, aims to compel companies to prevent human rights and environmental abuses in their global value chains, and to hold them liable in case of damage.

Last March, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI), adopted its opinion on the text, providing significant improvements on key points such as the definition of adverse environmental impacts and companies’ obligations regarding the impact of their activities on climate. The text is now being examined by the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) where conservative MEPs continue to oppose these improvements. They also prevent corporate provisions that would facilitate access to justice for affected people, such as the reversal of the burden of proof.

On the 17th of April, there will be a last meeting between MEPs to negotiate the final version of the text before submitting it to the vote of the JURI committee the following week. A crucial vote which will determine the text that will be debated in the plenary session of the European Parliament.

The European campaign “Justice is everybody’s business”, supported by several of our organisations, commissioned a poll across ten European countries. The results [2] are unequivocal : 

  • Almost three quarters (74%) of Europeans support an EU law which would require all companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees [3];
  • Almost two thirds (64%) believe banks must also be held accountable for the actions of businesses they invest in or lend money to [4].

Alongside the polling, over 200 public figures and civil society organisations have signed a statement demanding “a strong European legislation, adapted to the fight against the climate crisis and to climate justice“. Faced with companies’ greenwashing, voluntary pledges and commitments on energy transition, lawyers, economists and scientists from all over Europe have also recently published an op-ed article  calling for an effective and legally binding legislation [5].

In the context of climate and ecological emergency, our organisations believe that the draft directive, in its current form, must be strengthened  so that companies are required to identify and prevent all the risks for the environment and climate and to effectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Our organisations call on MEPs to listen to European citizens rather than to lobbies, and to give priority to the protection of people and climate over multinationals private interests


[1] The poll was conducted in the following countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. 

[2] All figures, unless otherwise indicated, are from YouGov Plc. Figures are based on a survey of a nationally and politically representative sample of adults in Germany (n=2000) and France (n=1000). The opinion poll was also conducted among a nationally representative sample of adults in Ireland (n=1000), Belgium (n=1000), Finland (n=1000), Austria (n=1000), Poland (n=1000), Slovenia (n=500), Spain (n=1000) and the Netherlands (n=1000). Fieldwork was undertaken between February 3 and 16, 2023. The poll was carried out online. European level figures are n averages of the proportion of people who selected each response across all nations surveyed.

[3] The poll also found that 65% of respondents demanded that companies reduce their emissions even in the midst of an energy crisis.

[4] Since the draft directive was presented to the European Parliament, financial lobbies have spent at least 100 million euros to lobby European decision-makers. In the EU Council, countries such as France have been pushing for the financial sector to be excluded from the scope of the new directive.

[5] This article was published on the 3rd of April in Les Echos (in French). Among the signatories, several French public figures, such as Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Gaël Giraud, Laurence Tubiana and Arié Alimi.

Press release from:
Sherpa, ActionAid France, Friends of the Earth France, Amnesty International France, Attac, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette, Notre Affaire à Tous, Oxfam France. 

For more information: presse@asso-sherpa.org

Last modified: 8 August 2023