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EU Council Finalizes Agreement on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD)

EU flag alongside a notebook titled "EU REGULATIONS" related to the CSDDD agreement

In a pivotal development, the European Council, comprising EU member states, has announced the adoption of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), a legislative framework aimed at enforcing companies to actively manage and mitigate their adverse impacts on human rights and the environment. This comes after intense negotiations led to significant amendments to the original proposal, extending the timeline for its full implementation.

Originally proposed by the European Commission in February 2022, the CSDDD sets forth a comprehensive approach for companies to identify, assess, prevent, mitigate, and rectify their environmental and human rights impacts. This encompasses a wide range of concerns, including labor violations, environmental degradation, and pollution, across both upstream and downstream activities.

The directive's journey to approval was marked by challenges, most notably objections from key member states such as Germany and Italy, which delayed the council's consensus. Concerns centered around the directive's potential bureaucratic burden on businesses and its legal ramifications.

This stalemate prompted a reevaluation of the directive's scope, culminating in a compromise that significantly narrowed its application to larger entities within the EU, specifically those with over 1,000 employees and annual revenues exceeding €450 million.

This recalibration reduces the directive's coverage by approximately two-thirds compared to the original draft. Additionally, the revised directive excludes specific lower thresholds previously set for sectors considered at high risk, though this decision may be revisited in the future.

Other notable changes include a phased implementation schedule, with full compliance required five years post-enactment, and the exclusion of product disposal from the directive's purview.

Furthermore, the obligation for companies to foster climate transition plans through financial incentives has been eliminated.

Despite these amendments, the directive's fundamental objectives remain intact, as highlighted by Heidi Hautala, Vice President of the European Parliament. While Hautala criticized the negotiation process as detrimental to the EU's decision-making credibility, she acknowledged the preservation of the directive's core essence.

The CSDDD now awaits further deliberation in the EU Parliament, particularly within its legal affairs committee, ahead of a crucial final vote scheduled for April. This legislative milestone reflects the EU's commitment to embedding sustainability and corporate responsibility at the heart of its internal market, signaling a significant shift towards more accountable and transparent business practices on a global scale.


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