Press release

CSDDD suffers horse-trading wars to finally get EU Members States’ vote – ClientEarth

15 March 2024

Today, ambassadors of EU Member States finally voted to support the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), despite undemocratic last ditch efforts by certain countries to further weaken the law.

Following extensive negotiations between the European Commission, EU Council and the European Parliament, a preliminary agreement on the law was reached last December.  However, in January, Germany did a U-turn and firmly opposed the law, opening the door for France and Italy to delay the law approval process by requesting last-minute changes and showing wavering commitments to the agreed deal.

The most significant concession made concerns the scope of companies covered by the Directive. By raising the employee threshold from 500 to 1000 and the turnover threshold from €150 million to €450 million, only a third of companies are now covered by the law as opposed to what was initially proposed.

Anaïs Berthier, Head of ClientEarth’s Brussels office, said: “After years of intense negotiations and despite multiple attempts to gut the law, Member States have finally backed the CSDDD. But this vote has come at a high price – last minute horse-trading means the law will now only cover a small number of companies, falling short of its initial aim to tackle the full breadth of companies’ environmental footprint.

“The CSDDD has the potential to set a global precedent by transforming voluntary international business and rights standards into binding rules that foster fair competition and level the playing field for large companies across the EU. But corporate lobbying and political games have butchered this opportunity to revolutionise how we do business in the EU and beyond by excluding most companies from its scope.

“This rollback by the Council at the eleventh hour is extremely concerning as it flies in the face of the EU’s history of policymaking and goes against the democratic decision-making process of EU laws. This disrespect for the rule of law is a unsettling trend that we are witnessing across several environmental laws still being approved. It’s a worrying sign of things to come in the run up to the EU elections.

“We must now make the most out of what we’ve got and focus on implementing and building on what has been agreed. To do that, the European Parliament must swiftly vote to support the law that they had backed in December, so that the CSDDD can be approved and we can start turning words into action. There’s no time to waste.”


Notes to editors:

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is a critical new law that would require companies to identify and assess environmental harms and human rights violations across their value chains, and to take action to prevent and eliminate them.

The vote today by the Permanent Representatives of the governments of Member States (COREPER) will now be followed by a vote in the European Parliament’s JURI Committee on 19 March.  The European Parliament plenary vote on the preliminary agreement will then take place the week of the 25th of April.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.