Oxfam welcomes European Parliament’s vote on corporate rules for supply chains  

Published: 10th March 2021

Today, Members of the European Parliament voted on a report for corporate responsibility in global supply chains.   

Oxfam’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said:   

“This report is a welcome step and sends a clear message to the Commission: we need strong EU rules to hold companies liable for human rights and environmental abuses. For far too long, some European businesses from high-street fashion brands to fossil fuel giants have been allowed to operate with impunity. Strong EU laws can end this and ensure that victims of corporate abuse can claim their rights in a European court under European law.”   

It is crucial now that the regressive business lobby, like Business Europe, does not have the opportunity to water down the upcoming proposal from the Commission. The Commission must instead listen to progressive businesses, along with international investors, EU citizens and civil society, who are all pushing for stronger corporate rules.”  


Notes to editors

  • Oxfam is available to comment in Brussels.   
  • Oxfam signed a joint statement on the adoption of the report with 18 other NGOs. 
  • This report puts forward new rules to ensure that EU companies comply with labour and climate rules throughout their supply chain. This report communicates the European Parliament’s position on mandatory human rights due diligence legislation due to be tabled by the European Commission later this year.    
  • There is broad support for this law:   
  • The amendment on so-called overriding mandatory provision ensures that European law is applied in civil cases against European companies in European courts for human rights harm committed abroad. Currently, the “law of the country where the harm occurred” is applied by EU courts in such cases, which continues to generate unacceptable legal uncertainty as well as financial costs and time delays for victim-claimants, companies and judges alike.  
  • Oxfam advocates for effective EU legislation to include five key elements:    
    • Rules must apply throughout companies’ global supply chains, down to the primary production level.    
    • The EU must consult meaningfully with rights-holders. This is not only a core human rights principle, but in our experience the only way to uncover hidden exploitation.    
    • The EU must follow a gender-sensitive approach because women face different and often more severe impacts.    
    • Companies must account for whether they cause, contribute to, or are linked to, human rights impacts identified, and must take appropriate measures to combat these impacts.    
    • Companies should be liable for any human rights abuses resulting from a company’s failure to appropriate measures.     
  • Oxfam’s campaign ‘Behind the Barcodes’ calls for an end to human rights abuses in food chain supplies.  


Contact information

Jade Tenwick | jade.tenwick@oxfam.org | mobile +32 473 562260    

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfamEU