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EU Policy. Exclusive: Belgium triples corporate due diligence thresholds in bid for last-ditch deal

A garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed in 2013
A garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed in 2013 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jack Schickler
Published on Updated
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Member states are running out of time to agree a sustainable supply chains law before June elections, but prospects have been thrown into doubt by a parallel fight on packaging waste.

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The Belgian government has now proposed to triple a turnover threshold to cut the number of companies caught by a landmark supply chains law, Euronews has been told.

Though tentatively agreed by MEPs and governments in December, the corporate sustainability due diligence directive, CSDDD, has suffered repeated setbacks, after German finance minister Christian Lindner voiced his opposition.

A proposal circulated by the Belgian government in recent days would limit the CSDDD to companies with more than €450m in worldwide turnover, as it seeks to square opposition from major member states, two sources with knowledge of the talks told Euronews.

The December deal put the limit at €150m, while last week Belgium – which currently chairs the Council – proposed to raise it to €300m, as first reported by Euronews, in a bid to assuage concerns over regulatory burdens.

Belgium hopes to get sign-off on the law at a meeting of EU ambassadors set to take place Friday (15 March). The following week, 22 March, is seen as a cut-off date to ensure MEPs can also agree the plans before elections due in June.

Ambassadors earlier this week agreed to a new law to prohibit the sale of goods made using forced labour – but the CSDDD goes further, requiring big companies to check their suppliers’ practices are consistent with limiting climate change.

In a lawmaker debate held earlier this week in Strasbourg, lead MEP Lara Wolters (Netherlands/Socialists and Democrats) said that the Council had “disgraced itself” and “undermined European democracy” by repeatedly havering over the CSDDD.

But her colleague Angelika Niebler (Germany/European People’s Party) argued MEPs should be “careful not to saw the branch that we're sitting on”, as excessive bureaucracy might simply encourage EU companies to pull out of developing countries.

Prospects of a deal have also been further thrown into doubt by a parallel trade-law fracas over new plans on packaging waste, which is also scheduled for a vote earlier on Friday. Italy – which has expressed scepticism on both pieces of legislation – may attempt to link the two politically.

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