Caobisco welcomes proposals for major EU mandatory due diligence for industry supply chains

Caobisco, the European chocolate, biscuits and confectionery trade association has given its backing to landmark EU proposals for mandatory due diligence within key industry supply chains, writes Neill Barston.

The organisation, which will be among the keynote speakers at our World Confectionery Conference this September in Brussels, presently represents more than 13,000 businesses across the sector, believed the planned measures would have a notably positive impact on overall sustainability for the industry.

As the confectionery body noted, it fully supports region-wide mandatory due diligence approach for companies to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for actual or potential adverse impacts in their own operations, in response to major concerns regarding cocoa supply chains in West Africa, which have been especially badly hit by the impact of Covid on logistics chains, and uncertain financial markets for commodity prices.

Under the EU proposals, major companies with an employee base of over 500 and a turnover of above €150 million would be required to legally required to monitor their commercial activities to ensure effective sustainability of business operations to guard against child labour, exploitation of workers and impacts of pollution and biodiversity loss.

Caobisco underlined that it remains committed to ensuring that products are manufactured responsibly and to the highest standards, minimising environmental impact and respecting workers’ human rights.

Director General, Muriel Korter, said:  “We welcome the publication of the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. New EU rules should work to strengthen greater collaboration and impactful actions to advance respect for human rights and the environment along our supply chains, as well as to promote greater transparency. We look forward to contributing to the next steps of the legislative process to shape an impactful EU legislation”.

As the EU noted, a number of its Members States have already introduced national rules on due diligence and some companies have taken measures at their own initiative.

However, it considered that there is need for a larger scale improvement that it acknowledged was ‘difficult to achieve with voluntary action,’ and asserted that establishing corporate sustainability frameworks would address the pressing situation within many global supply chains, including those serving the confectionery sector.

Didier Reynders, EU Commissioner for Justice said: “This proposal is a real game-changer in the way companies operate their business activities throughout their global supply chain. With these rules, we want to stand up for human rights and lead the green transition. We can no longer turn a blind eye on what happens down our value chains. We need a shift in our economic model. The momentum in the market has been building in support of this initiative, with consumers pushing for more sustainable products. I am confident that many business leaders will support this cause.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, also welcomed the key legislation, which has faced delays in being brought forward after initially being tabled last year.

He said: “While some European companies are already leaders in sustainable corporate practices, many still face challenges in understanding and improving their environmental footprint and human rights track record. Complex global value chains make it particularly difficult for companies to get reliable information on their suppliers’ operations. The fragmentation of national rules further slows down progress in the take up of good practices. Our proposal will make sure that big market players take a leading role in mitigating the risks across their value chains while supporting small companies in adapting to changes.”

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