The Future is Equal

European countries water down landmark EU law to clean up business

Today, European justice ministers agreed on a proposal for a law to make companies accountable for the damage they cause to people and the planet.   

In response, Oxfam EU’s Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said:

“Today, European countries watered down a landmark proposal to clean up business and stop corporate abuse. It is a loss for the women and men who work in terrible conditions around the world to make the goods that end up in our shopping trolleys. The only ones celebrating today is the regressive business lobby.

“The original proposal was already a far cry from the game-changer law we expected. Now, after EU countries played their part, it is only weaker.

On civil liability, Herman said: “There are more and more loopholes allowing companies to escape their obligations to clean up their business.”

On the financial sector: “The financial sector can continue to bankroll human rights violations and damage to the planet without being held accountable as it remains up to each European country to decide whether they want to make banks and other financial players clean up business.”

On survivors accessing justice: “The playing field has been tipped towards companies to the extent that we do not know if the law will even make a difference to survivors of corporate injustice.”

On climate obligations: “The climate crisis, the biggest challenge of our times, remains an afterthought in the Council’s version of the legislation.”

“Now the European Parliament should pick up the tab left by European ministers. They must make sure that companies, including banks and investors, are held responsible for their harm to people and the planet.”

Notes to editors

Read our media briefing which breaks down the key issues in the proposal, and what the EU needs to do to make it better.   

Read Oxfam’s report, Not in this Together, which details slavery-like conditions in the coffee industry in Brazil, workers in the Indian tea sector not able to make a living wage, and rice workers in Pakistan working up to 12 hours daily in extreme temperatures amongst others.

At Oxfam, we care about your privacy. If you would like to unsubscribe or correct your data, please reply to this email and let us know. Learn more about your data protection rights