Written by 10 h 36 min -Press release-en, Advocacy, Strengthening corporate accountability

Second Bill on Multinationals’ Duty of Vigilance: Little Change in Committee Stage

Paris 11th March 2015. Tabled on 11th February by the socialist group, the new draft law on the duty of vigilance has just been scrutinized by three parliamentary committees before its plenary debate on 30th March. The debates have helped to improve certain points such as business relationship, but the proposed amendments on reinforcing the text, tabled by the three other parliamentary groups that co-authored the first draft, have not been agreed.

The group of socialist MPs have defended their new draft law in the face of multiple attacks from people opposed to a text demanding respect for human rights by multinational companies in France and abroad. Indeed, opposition MPs have been acting as lobbyists for the big companies that are strongly opposed to the bill, waving the red rag of alleged loss of competitiveness.

But the great majority of socialist MPs have also systematically rejected all the proposals on consolidating the text from the three other parliamentary groups with which they had worked together on the first bill. The scene has been replayed three times during the debates in the relevant committees (Economic Affairs Committee yesterday evening, Sustainable Development and Steering Committees this morning).

The draft law remains flawed in terms of the absence of punishment for failure to effectively apply the obligation of vigilance and the obstacles to holding companies liable under the common law system.

The excessively high thresholds have not been modified, limiting the number of companies targeted by the law to approximately 150, while even large companies recognize that this threshold is pointless as a business’s liability must be assessed in relation to the resources at its disposal. Some companies involved in the Rana Plaza tragedy, such as Camaïeu, would be immune to this legislation, for example, as well as numerous companies in high-risk sectors such as the extractive industries. The definition of the perimeter of activities within the value chain has actually progressed, but it remains limited to subcontractors and suppliers. The law does not apply to other types of contact, such as the organisation of various production systems. So what is the situation regarding the Auchan group, which uses an importer?

Our organisations call upon MPs to reinforce the text during its plenary hearing on 30th March. Taking these amendments into account is indeed crucial for achieving the stated objectives and respecting the spirit of this initiative.

Sherpa Association press contact:

Sandra Cossart, Director, Globalisation and Human Rights – CSR Programme: 06 10 77 77 28.

Last modified: 17 December 2019