Still no majority for EU supply chain law

In mid-February, the final approval of the EU supply chain law was postponed until today, Wednesday, because the EU ambassadors were unable to reach an agreement. Even today, the compromise text developed in TRILOG negotiations did not receive a qualified majority in the vote in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). Today's vote can still be reversed in the EU Council of Ministers. However, it is questionable whether this will succeed. Like Germany, Austria is one of the countries that does not support the EU Supply Chain Act. Economics and Labor Minister Kocher has announced that he will abstain, which is tantamount to a vote against at EU level.


"We must now examine the state of play and see whether it is possible to resolve the concerns raised by the Member States in consultation with the European Parliament," said the Belgian Presidency of the Council. It is therefore unclear whether the project will have to be renegotiated again, although a compromise was actually reached between negotiators from the two institutions in December.


Update on EU supply chain law: Vote postponed


"Historic opportunity missed"

Austria's Justice Minister Alma Zadić (Greens), who had insisted on Austria's approval in the run-up to the vote, described today's outcome as "bitter" in a press release. "This represents a missed historic opportunity to protect millions of children from exploitation and to protect our environment from further destruction," said Zadić, while at the same time assuring that she would not give up despite today's setback. "I will continue to campaign at all levels for the protection of children, nature and human rights," the statement reads.


"Devastating signal"

"Austria's involvement in blocking the negotiated compromise is a breach of duty with regard to human rights," says Gertrude Klaffenböck, Südwind coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign in Austria. "This is also a devastating signal: violations of human rights and environmental regulations will continue to go unpunished. Politicians are thus continuing to protect corporations at the expense of the rights, wages and safety of the workers who produce our clothing, food and electronic products."

The new EU supply chain law with its strengths and weaknesses


Federal Minister Kocher, who has been involved in the negotiations on behalf of Austria to date, has recently been referring to a "list approach", which would place companies on either "positive" or "negative lists", Südwind writes in a press release. According to the NGO, such a "list approach" would have no preventative effect and would only show where the damage has already been done. The question of how victims can obtain their rights would also be completely unresolved. The collapse of the certified Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh in 2013 is a sad reminder of this: over 1,100 people lost their lives. The relatives had to fight for years for compensation and were ultimately dependent on the voluntary concessions of the companies, explains Südwind.
The Treaty Alliance has refuted other bogus arguments and myths about the Supply Chain Act in a brief overview.


"Slap in the face"

"Today's rejection of the EU supply chain law in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) is a slap in the face for 160 million working children. They are being robbed of their future opportunities and Austria is clearly partly to blame," said Reinhard Heiserer, Managing Director of the Austrian development organization Jugend Eine Welt, sharply criticizing Austria's abstention today in the vote on an EU supply chain law. "Instead of holding companies along the value chain accountable so that inhumane working conditions and child labor are finally consigned to history, Austria is one of the EU states that ensures that human rights violations, child labor and environmental destruction remain on the agenda and go unpunished," Heiserer continued.

"Yes to EU supply chain law means yes to protecting people, the environment and the climate"

"Blockade not comprehensible"

AK expert Sarah Bruckner: "Germany and France already have supply chain laws. The blockade of the EU supply chain law is incomprehensible because it would be an advantage if the same rules applied everywhere in the EU - many companies also see it that way. However, business and industry associations are opposing this and have lobbied massively. This raises the question: in whose interest? Many companies that already pay attention to clean supply chains support the EU Supply Chain Act because it ensures fair competition. Big business wants to carry on in the old style. That is not acceptable."


"Preventing a competitive disadvantage"

As expected, the Federation of Austrian Industries argues diametrically opposed "With today's decision, a massive competitive disadvantage for Europe as a business and industrial location was rightly prevented at the last minute. The present draft was well-intentioned, but not well done. For many companies, especially in the SME sector, the requirements would simply have been impossible to implement," said Georg Knill, President of the Federation of Austrian Industries. With today's result, the impending bureaucratic monster and the associated rights to sue, which threaten the European location in international competition, have been averted for the time being, according to the IV in a press release.