First response to EC's proposal on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence

Yesterday, the European Commission presented its long-anticipated proposal on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. A summary of the landmark proposal is available here.

Fair Wear see this as a major milestone towards ensuring that companies fulfil their duty to perform human rights due diligence in their global supply chains. The legislation marks a step in the right direction to hold corporations to account and create a much-needed level playing field for those already taking their responsibility.

Specifically for the garment industry, however, the proposal falls short of realising its ambition. While the sector is an acknowledged risk sector, it is highly fragmented. With the current text, only a few per cent of apparel brands and retailers would be in the scope of the directive. Without substantial leverage, the law is set to fail in its ambition of ensuring respect for human rights and the environment in this high-risk, high-impact global industry.

The proposal crucially mentions the UNGP and the OECD guidelines, which is generally seen as the backbone of meaningful due diligence. Unfortunately, the current text fails to include some key elements of those guidelines. Due diligence is not a matter of cherry-picking and realisation of the Commission’s laudable objectives will not succeed unless the OECD sectoral and overall guidelines are fully incorporated.

Fair Wear will soon share a more detailed response to the contents of the proposal, and we look forward to using our expertise and network to create the leverage needed to change the entire industry for the better.