Companies around the world are increasingly under pressure to create more transparency in their supply chains. Both consumers and investors are becoming more concerned with knowing how products are made. This implies taking a closer look at workers' rights and how they are being treated, at companies all along the value chain. The EU's draft legislation aims to provide clarity on how to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains.
Although the directive has not been approved by the European Parliament and the Council, there is already initial information on the requirements companies need to prepare for.
The directive will apply to large EU limited liability companies and distinguish between two groups:
|Group 1||9,400 companies in the EU market||+500 employees||Net EUR 150 million+ turnover worldwide|
|Group 2||3,400 companies in high-impact sectors||+250 employees||Net EUR 40+ million turnover worldwide|
For Group 2 the rules will start to apply only two years after Group 1.
The legislation takes into account the company’s own operations, its subsidiaries and the value chains. The requirements will be the following:
As one of the first countries in the European Union, Germany has already started implementing the directive into national law. The German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains comes into force on 1st January 2023 and includes specific obligations for companies that have been adapted from the EU Directive. For instance, companies will be obliged to establish a risk management system and conduct risk analyses, adopt a policy statement of corporate human rights strategy, and anchor preventive measures. Failing to comply with legal obligations, could imply fines, which could sum up to 8 million euros or up to 2 percent of global annual sales.
The upcoming EU directive, as it comes into force as part of the German law in 2023 will particularly impact companies that operate in high-impact sectors, such as textiles/fashion, agriculture, and the extraction of minerals. Considering the German market, there are companies that are already well prepared for the upcoming requirements.
Since Adidas, the biggest European sportswear brand, has outsourced the majority of its production, it is essential for the company to closely monitor the labor conditions and environmental standards in local factories. The company has taken measures to provide a high level of transparency throughout its value chain. Part of Adidas’ approach is detailed workplace standards and independent and unannounced audits by third parties. It is remarkable that the company also fully discloses its Global supplier list.
To address the risks in the lower tiers of their supply chains, Adidas monitors its third-tier raw material suppliers. The company also published a list of its second-tier wet process suppliers, including dyeing and finishing of materials. As a result, Adidas demonstrates significantly more transparency than most of its competitors, who generally only disclose information about tier 1 suppliers.
Food trade and food production is also considered a high-impact sector. One of the biggest German sector-players is METRO, a food and non-food wholesaler active in over 30 countries across Europe and Asia. Regarding environmental protection in the supply chain, one of METRO’s focus areas is to reduce deforestation in its value chain, for instance through its palm oil procurement policy. By 2023, the company aims to use only 100% sustainable palm oil on RSPO-level Segregated or Identity Preserved in METRO’s own brand products. Furthermore, METRO focuses on sustainable soy sourcing by collaborating with its supply chain on challenges like deforestation and social issues.
The downloadable European Commission factsheet at the top of the page contains more information about the upcoming EU directive.
Will the new EU Directive impact your organization? Contact Gijs-Jan Groeneveld at firstname.lastname@example.org or +31 6 28 02 18 80 to find out how Finch & Beak can support you in preparing well for the upcoming EU directive and improving your ESG performance.
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