The European Commission has recently adopted a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. Companies are at the heart of the proposal and they will be required to identify and, where necessary, prevent, end or mitigate adverse impacts of their activities on human rights and on the environment. A number of Member States have already introduced national rules on due diligence and some companies have taken measures at their own initiative.

The due diligence regulation is very important for industries, especially the ones that largely depend on the import of critical raw materials, such as battery manufacturing. On 17 March, the European Council adopted a so-called “general approach” to the batteries regulation, following a proposal tabled by the European Commission in December 2020. The regulation aims to set up a circular economy sector by targeting all stages of the life cycle of batteries, including responsible sourcing. The Council and Parliament will now start trilogue negotiations with a view to progressing towards an agreement.

Some industry stakeholders argue that policymakers should seek a coherent and consistent approach on sustainability and due diligence throughout EU legislation, as choosing specific approaches for different legislative pieces could lead to inconsistencies and confusion. Moreover, they stress the importance of industry-led schemes aligned with standards recognised by independent third parties, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and approved by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL Alliance), as they are tailored to the specific characteristics of specific industries. Another point brought forward by the industry is the importance of having realistic time-frames for action.

Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss responsible sourcing and due diligence. How can companies best develop tools and standards that fit the upcoming European legislation? And how can the European Commission ensure there is a coherent approach for all actors involved?

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