Prochain vote du parlement européen en faveur du reporting

europeLes discussions au Parlement européen progressent mais l’engagement attendu des sociétés pourrait être réduit.

The reform is currently being debated in the European parliament and in the Council. A first vote in the Parliament’s committee in charge of the dossier (JURI -legal affairs committee) is expected for the 17th December 2013. The Parliament plenary vote is expected in February 2014. The Council has held several meeting at a technical level and the reform is expected to go at a more political level in November.

In the Parliament, intense negotiations are foreseen between the political groups who want to reduce the ambition and scope of the proposal; and others which want stronger requirements and enforcement. The recently released draft reflects this mixed position.

In the Council, a group of Member States are trying to weaken the proposal. The Council’s first compromise text reflects their position and is a clear step backwards.

The ‘wrecking amendments’ proposed by the Council and by the European Parliament’s Rapporteur would maintain reporting virtually voluntary, and would fail to ensure that relevant information on impacts on  people and the environment are part of such reporting. In particular:

  • Truthfulness of information and lack of control and sanctions: Companies could potentially provide misleading information on their environmental and human right policies and impacts, and it would be just fine.
  • If environmental and human right abuses are not financially relevant (i.e. “material” for companies), they would not have to be mentioned in such report.
  • Directors would not be held liable for the information provided (‘safe harbour clause’) – which means that even in the case information proves to be wrong or misleading, directors’ responsibility could not be engaged.
  • The weak “comply or explain” approach, combined with the above-mentioned loopholes, would allow exceptions not to report on some risks and impacts that are highly relevant for workers, communities and the planet.

The timeline for discussions is very short. The coming European elections of 2014 present a very tangible risk of having the reform going into limbo. ECCJ and its members will intensify their effort to ensure that the reform takes into account the voice of affected communities, workers and the environment.

An advocacy update for members is available upon request to the ECCJ Secretariat.

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