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Corporate responsibility: the counterproposal is exemplary | economysuisse

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Last week, the EU Commission presented its proposal for a directive on the development of the previous rules for the protection of human rights and the environment. This will probably be the basis of political discussion in the EU for years to come. It is aimed at EU companies with a global turnover of more than €150 million and more than 500 or 250 employees. Companies outside the EU are affected if they have a turnover of more than €150 million or €40 million in the EU. SMEs are not directly affected.

The Swiss counterproposal is exemplary and modern

The former initiators of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative (UVI) interpreted the EU proposal as a milestone that made the new Swiss counterproposal look old again. This statement is obviously incorrect. The EU is not proposing the UVI instruments. What the EU is proposing is a further development of its previous rules. Those that are the basis of the current regulation in Switzerland. The center is primarily concerned with expanding due diligence requirements. A look at the proposed sanctioning measures is particularly revealing. Liability with reversal of the burden of proof is not mentioned, nor is it based exclusively on civil liability. Rather, a combination of official sanctions and liability is proposed. It is up to the EU Member States how they want to organize the implementation at national level. Liability is limited and the plaintiff must always provide full proof of the due diligence breach. This is a fundamental difference with the extreme demands of the UVI, which were rejected at the polls.

From the point of view of the international community, Swiss law regulates human rights and environmental protection in a modern and exemplary manner. A look at the overview of Shift, a US center of competence in the field of business and human rights, shows this impressively. In this important and objective panorama, our country is also one of the countries where the regulation is already in force.

The implementation of the EU proposal remains open

What the EU Commission is proposing to further develop its existing rules is likely to spark contentious debates among EU members. How the EU Parliament and EU members will react to the proposals is still wide open and criticism is already being raised on important points.

Among other things, they criticize the proposed EU liability regulations, the unclear definition of the value chain, the liability of CEOs and the fact that global supply chains could be severed to the detriment of poor regions due to to the new rules.

Swiss companies are obliged to implement the counterproposal

Switzerland’s solution was based on the previous EU regulation. So you can also confidently follow the new EU rules on the basis of your own rules. However, its design and scope must be clear. In the EU, we are not there yet.

Therefore, it is inappropriate to derive calls for further tightening of the law in Switzerland from current developments in the EU. For our companies, the first thing to do now is to apply the new Swiss rules and gain significant experience with them.


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