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EU Directives

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 19 May 2022

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Ceisteanna (65)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

65. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views that human rights defenders should be named stakeholders in Irish national mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation. [25229/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

A proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD) was published by the European Commission on 23rd February 2022. The proposal aims to address the adverse environmental and human rights impacts arising from the operations of companies and those of their subsidiaries and value chains. There will be due diligence obligations on such companies and company directors, when fulfilling their duty to act in the best interest of the company, will be required to take into account the consequences of their decisions on sustainability matters, including, where applicable, human rights, climate change and environmental impacts. Larger companies will be required to adopt a plan to ensure that their business model and strategy is compatible with the transition to a sustainable economy and the limiting of global warming to 1.5 °C, in line with the Paris Agreement. The proposed Directive also requires companies to establish procedures to handle complaints from those adversely affected by company operations and from other key stakeholders. The proposal also provides for the designation of supervisory authorities at national level and a civil liability regime in relation to companies who fail to meet their obligations.

Ireland is supportive of the objective of the proposed Directive which should promote responsible business conduct and we will seek to ensure that the proposals strike the right balance by providing effective protections whilst ensuring that the measures to be implemented by companies are clear, proportionate, and enforceable. It is important that measures such as those proposed are on a cross EU basis in recognition of the complex, international nature of many supply chains and to ensure harmonisation, promote policy coherence, and avoid the risk of fragmentation within the EU single market.

The proposal contains a definition for stakeholder which is broadly defined and encompasses a company’s employees, the employees of its subsidiaries, and other individuals, groups, communities or entities whose rights or interests are or could be affected by the products, services and operations of the company, its subsidiaries or its business relationships. My Department remains committed to ensuring the interests and rights of all stakeholders are protected under the proposals.

Consideration of the proposals is at an early stage and is ongoing across EU Member States. My Department is engaging at EU working party level to clarify the practical implications for stakeholders. Given the complexity of the issues being addressed, negotiations at EU level may well continue through the remainder of this year and into 2023. Decisions on how the proposals will be legislated for in an Irish context will be taken once the Directive has been finalised.

I look forward to hearing the views of all those with an interest in the proposal. In this regard, I have recently met with the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights and my officials have also met with key stakeholders including representatives of business and civil society organisations. I intend to have further engagement with stakeholders over the coming months and will also launch a public consultation to help inform our position on the proposal.

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