November 10, 2010 – In preparation of a new Communication on Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) - to be launched by the European Commission in 2011 - a
network of 250 European NGO’s organissx a European wide Action Day. They demand
that the Commission takes steps to hold European companies accountable for
damage they cause in developing countries.
Brussels, an ‘Oil Spill’ was created in front of the European Commission’s
building to symbolise environmental damage caused by European oil companies in Nigeria.
European Action Day is an initiative of the European Coalition for Corporate
Justice (ECCJ, www.corporatejustice.org), a European
network bringing together over 250 civil society organisations present in 15
European countries. Members include the International Federation of Human
Rights (FIDH) and national affiliates of Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty
International and Friends of the Earth.
are happening in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden in order to urge the EU to take measures that
will stop corporate abuses and provide access to justice for victims of these
poisoning in South Africa to child labour in India, companies, including
European ones, continue to get away with breaches of environmental and human
rights standards,” states Ruth Casals, ECCJ’s coordinator.
“Regrettably, there currently exists no binding mechanism at the international
level ensuring that companies are held accountable for any violations they
commit, or in which they are complicit”.
main ECCJ demands for the EU include:
- Ensure that companies operating in the EU are legally accountable for any
harm they cause to people and the environment in and outside the EU;
- Ensure that European companies disclose accurate information about their
impacts on people and the environment. They must be transparent about what they
do regarding their human rights and environmental risks and impacts;
- Ensure that non-EU citizens, who suffer from the operations of European
companies, have access to justice in the EU.
10th is a symbolic day as it commemorates the 15th anniversary of the execution
of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian human rights activist, who protested against the
oil pollution in his community by European oil companies such as Shell and
Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe and Board member of ECCJ, comments: “Shell
and other oil companies have spilt as much oil in Nigeria as BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Not even the Nigerian government is stopping them. Continuous oil pollution
by European companies in Nigeria shows the urgent need for the EU to take steps
to hold European companies accountable for the damages they cause in other
parts of the world”.
Action Day is aimed at promoting the message of ECCJ’s campaign “Rights for
Peoples - Rules for Business” (www.rightsforpeople.org), which main objective
is to collect 100,000 signatures from citizens around Europe in support of
there is a new policy momentum with the announcement by the Internal Market
Directorate General of a new Consultation on the issue of corporate
transparency  (non-financial reporting). Also pending is the new proposal by
the Directorate General on Justice and Fundamental Rights of Brussels I
regulation (dealing with access to justice issues) to be released before the
end of the year, and the upcoming new Communication on CSR announced by
Vice-president and Enterprise Commissioner, Antonio Tajani, for the spring of
“After a few
years characterized by lack of policy initiative by the EU on the subject, now
is the right moment for the EU to move forward in its political decision-making
to improve the accountability of European companies and to avoid more deaths
like that one of Ken Saro-Wiwa,” said Ruth Casals.
more information please contact:
Casals, +32 471 614418, info[at]corporatejustice.org
de Clerck of ECCJ, +32 494 38 09 59, paul[at]milieudefensie.nl
http://www.responsible-investor.com/home/article/eu_may_legislate_on_corporate_social AND http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/smact/docs/single-market-act_en.pdf