The PP of Alberto Núñez Feijóo and Vox have voted against a law promoted by the European Commission to fight against labor exploitation, including child labor. The popular Europeans have been divided in the European Parliament in voting on the Due Diligence Directive and the Spanish delegation has been one of those that has rejected it. The right fears that this type of legislation will impede business development and competitiveness.

Economic and electoral interests threaten the green agenda in Europe


The text proposed by Brussels intends that large companies are subject to “sustainable and responsible behavior throughout global value chains”. Thus, it proposes that they identify, prevent, end or mitigate the adverse impacts of their activities on human rights, such as child labor and worker exploitation, and on the environment, for example, pollution and loss of biodiversity. . The European Commission promoted the directive to contribute its grain of sand to alleviate a dramatic situation: 160 million children around the world (one in ten) are in a situation of child labour. Almost half of them perform hazardous work and 25 million people are in a situation of forced or compulsory labor.

The European Parliament has endorsed, with 366 votes in favor, 225 against and 38 abstentions, this proposal that will affect companies with more than 250 employees and a turnover of more than 40 million euros, as well as parent companies that have more than 500 employees and a global turnover of over 150 million euros. In the case of those that do not have operations headquarters in the EU, the legislation will apply to those with a turnover greater than that figure in which at least 40 million have been generated in the territory of the 27.

The directive, which will now have to be negotiated between Parliament, the Council and the Commission before its final approval, contemplates a system of sanctions for those companies that fail to comply with the rules. The punishment, which will be imposed by national supervisors, will depend on the seriousness of the infringement: from making the breach public to the withdrawal of their products from the market or fines of up to 5% of their income. It also includes an environmental section in which companies will have to develop transition plans aimed at combating climate change. In companies with more than a thousand employees, compliance with this program will affect the variable part of executive compensation.

Part of the EPP, the socialists and democrats, liberals, greens and the left have voted in favor of the measure, while another part of the group led by Manfred Weber, including him and the Spanish delegation, among others, have opposed it, along with the extreme right and a handful of liberals.

The Spanish delegation of the PP defends its vote against because “some of the commitments were too burdensome for EU companies, especially SMEs.” However, the restrictions raised only operate for companies with significant billing figures. The conservatives maintain that this approach would have a “negative effect on the competitiveness of European companies at a global level”. “Full harmonization throughout the single market is of great importance for EU companies and is necessary to guarantee a level playing field,” says the Feijóo group, which wanted to change the directive for a regulation, which has a regulatory entity lower.

In fact, some social organizations consider that the position of the European Parliament falls short because it does not apply to a large number of societies. “While it is good news that the majority has voted in favor of the EU rules, your proposal falters on the starting line, since it leaves the majority of companies free,” says the head of Oxfam economic justice Marc-Olivier Herman, warning that survivors of corporate abuse will continue to fight in court.

“Human rights violations are prosecuted with the police, judges, jail or by stopping financing foreign satraps, but not by imposing more burdens, obligations, expenses and ideology on companies,” Vox spokesman Jorge Buxadé said during the debate: “The only consequence is that workers and companies are going to be poorer and less competitive and where there are European companies today there will be Chinese or American companies tomorrow.” The head of the Spanish extreme right in the European Parliament took the opportunity to pronounce on the electoral advance to ensure that on July 23 Spain will follow the trail of countries in which it has been imposing itself, such as Italy, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Hungary. “A new Europe of nations and freedoms will rise again,” he warned.

Ciudadanos, on the contrary, has supported the text under the premise that it is “balanced” because it puts “competitiveness and responsibility on the balance,” according to parliamentarian Adrián Vázquez.

“It is dramatic that the Spanish Popular Party is aligned with the most pensive part of the European right,” says PSOE MEP Ibán García del Blanco. “The support of the European Parliament is a turning point in how we look at the role of companies in society. A law on corporate responsibility must guarantee that the future belongs to companies that treat people and the environment in a healthy way, not those that base their income on damaging the environment and on exploitation”, defended the rapporteur of the text , the also socialist Lara Wolters.

“The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive is the cornerstone of a historic transformation that will redefine the responsibilities and obligations of companies to respect human rights and the environment,” said the vice president of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, from the greens, who also regretted that the European PP is getting closer and closer to the positions of the extreme right.

“It is a victory against the impunity of multinationals, a victory for human rights and the environment. Big companies will no longer be able to monitor rights without taking responsibility in court,” added Manon Aubry, from La France Insumise, who assured that big companies will no longer be able to “hide” behind subsidiaries. “The power of the people can prevail over that of money,” added the left-wing MEP, who alluded to the pressure from lobbies against the initiative.


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