On 3 March 2021, the Federal Cabinet approved the draft Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains. This is the first time the responsibility of German companies to respect human rights in global supply chains has been put on a legal footing.
A globalised economy requires a European strategy in the form of an action plan to effectively protect human rights in the supply chains of EU companies. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs promoted the issue during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2020; a concrete legislative proposal from the EU Commission is to follow in the spring of 2021.
Various Federal Government Ministries and inter-agency bodies are working on CSR. Although the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is at the helm of federal CSR activities, the CSR activities of the Federal Government are not an isolated political project, but rather closely connected to the efforts of the private sector and civil society.
There are many reasons why companies take CSR seriously. One of them is that it is in their own interest. This is an important factor, and indeed a positive one, because CSR is not a luxury, but something which benefits a company's business.
The EU's strategy clearly demonstrates that the positive development of the European economy is closely related to Europe's companies putting sustainability and corporate responsibility into practice on the ground and that these issues have to be driven by these very companies. To facilitate this, the EU is creating a shared political framework and promoting the discussion on CSR.
How can responsibility and sustainability be made integral parts of the global economy? The answer to this question is provided by international guidelines, which serve as the foundation of the global debate on corporate social responsibility (CSR).