Obligation of corporate responsibility is out of sight for the time being, the government is slashing the brakes

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Minister Micky Adriaansens at the Binnenhof prior to a cabinet meeting in 2022
NOS News

The government is currently opposed to a six-party initiative law that obliges companies to conduct business in a socially responsible manner. Ministers Schreinemacher and Adriaansens informed the drafters of the law of this in a meeting.

The ministers fear that the new law will make the rules in the Netherlands much stricter than in neighboring countries, with all its consequences.

Employers’ organizations have been criticizing the initiative law for months. Dredger Boskalis threatens to leave the Netherlands if the law is passed.

This is a bill that aims to oblige (international) companies to do something against child labour, exploitation and environmental pollution. ChristenUnie, SP, PvdA and GroenLinks announced the International Corporate Social Responsibility Act in 2021. D66 and Volt later joined it.

The bill states that companies must report abuses in their annual report and must come up with a plan of action for the solution. This would be supervised by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which could impose sanctions if necessary.

Not in current form

Last week, Ministers Schreinemacher of Trade and Adriaansens of Economic Affairs indicated in a meeting with those who submitted the bill that the government will not implement the initiative law in its current form.

Schreinemacher says in an explanation that the cabinet agrees that companies should “account for the world around them”, from “impact on the climate to the elimination of child labour”. But according to Schreinemacher, it is important that the agreements on this are the same for all countries in the EU. According to her, the current proposal will make the rules in the Netherlands stricter than in other countries.

And that has consequences for how attractive the Netherlands is to companies, according to Minister Adriaansens. In parliamentary debates and to the NOS, she has repeatedly pointed out the consequences for the business climate.

“What the cabinet does not want is that our business community falls behind compared to competitors across the border and elsewhere in the EU. In addition, the cabinet does not want companies to be responsible for matters over which they have no influence, such as the production process. at suppliers.”

The submitters have been asked by the cabinet to once again look at the bill through the lens of these earlier agreements.

Initiator and Christian Union Member of Parliament Van der Graaf tells NOS on behalf of the other petitioners that they are “convinced of the importance of the legislation”. This is important to “combat exploitation and child labor and to promote sustainable business abroad”. According to Van der Graaf, the discussion with the ministers is still ongoing and “no conclusions have yet emerged”.

Tomorrow there will be a debate in the House about the business climate in the Netherlands.

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