German liberals want to renegotiate EU due diligence law, blame Spain
Germany’s liberal FDP party wants to reopen negotiations on the EU’s Due Diligence Directive after the issue was removed from the agenda of a meeting of EU ambassadors last Friday, which the party says shows the poor quality of the preliminary agreement reached in December.
In mid-December, just weeks before the Spanish EU presidency drew to a close, negotiators reached an agreement on the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Initially presented by the European Commission in 2022, the legislation aims to hold large companies accountable for human rights and environmental abuses in their value chains.
But on Friday, EU ambassadors failed to give the green light to the deal, which proved too controversial and was therefore postponed by the current Belgian presidency. A new date for the vote has not yet been set.
“It was unclear until the very end what the majority situation would be,” Svenja Hahn, an EU lawmaker from the German FDP (Renew), told journalists after the decision became public.
“This does not speak in favour of the quality of the law if the situation is so unclear that the topic is taken off the agenda at the last minute,” she added.
Hahn blamed the delay on the Spanish EU presidency, which she said was so eager to get the deal done that it left critical issues to so-called “technical” negotiations after the preliminary agreement had been reached.
“I think it’s an absolute disgrace that it’s becoming more and more widespread, especially at the end of a Council presidency; that it’s all about PR success and a handshake photo so that political issues are always left open,” Hahn said.
“Unfortunately, this then leads to the text being finalised in the weeks and months that follow, with changes being made to the content, and you don’t actually know what’s in it for a long time,” she added.
Although German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD/S&D) strongly supports the law, internal rules requiring the government to abstain in the event of a disagreement within the coalition ensured that the opposition of FDP ministers in the government counted as a de facto ‘no’ vote under EU voting rules, effectively postponing Friday’s vote.
Had the vote gone ahead, Italy would also have abstained, diplomatic sources told Euractiv.
Finland, Sweden, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta and France also expressed various concerns, Hahn said.
German-Italian revolt delays EU’s due diligence law
The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) has been taken off the agenda of today’s meeting of EU ambassadors, as it was not expected to reach a majority among EU countries. So far, no new date for the vote has been set.
“That’s why we now see this postponement as an opportunity to make improvements,” said Hahn.
“A provisional trilogue result must ultimately be capable of achieving a majority because a vote in the Council and Parliament is not a formality, but an assessment of the content,” she added.
With FDP’s EU election campaign focusing on cutting EU bureaucracy, critics suspected that the FDP was ready to reject the law altogether, especially after German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) wrote a letter to his EU colleagues warning against the law.
Asked whether renegotiating parts of the treaty could allay the minister’s concerns, a ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that he did not want to consider “new hypothetical scenarios”.
During negotiations between member states, Germany had called for the inclusion of rules making it easier for companies to reduce their liability, but its proposals failed to win the support of most EU countries.
EU Parliament and member states reach deal on corporate due diligence law
Negotiators of the European Council and Parliament agreed on Thursday (14 December) after an all-night discussion a compromise deal on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), including on the most controversial aspects of the inclusion of finance and on the obligation to implement climate plans.
(Jonathan Packroff | Euractiv.de)