Today, the European Parliament’s plenary has approved a non-binding report led by MEP Lara Wolter (S&D, Netherlands) setting out some recommendations in view of the future EU initiative on sustainable corporate governance. The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) would like to recall some key learnings from its members’ long-standing experience in supply chain compliance management systems in view of the future Commission’s proposal.
“We are pleased to see that some of the recommendations expressed by FESI have been reflected in the European Parliament’s report, especially the fact that it is the responsibility of states and governments to protect human rights and the environment, and this responsibility should not be transferred to private actors”, declared Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General. “It is also crucial to make sure that the future initiative is reasonable in scope, with defined responsibilities for all actors involved.”, he added.
A large number of FESI member companies have been operating supply chain compliance management systems for several years. This has contributed to drive significant social and environmental improvement in their respective supply chains through regular reporting, public disclosures, and external verification exercises. These efforts have been highlighted in the recent Fashion Transparency Index 2020 where many companies in the sporting goods industry rank among the ones that are disclosing more about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.
FESI welcomes the EU’s ambition in leading harmonization and convergence of existing national initiatives supporting a comprehensive European wide approach on due diligence. The Federation believes that such an initiative should remain horizontal to ensure a fair level playing field across all sectors of the economy. FESI regrets the lack of harmonization suggested in the parliamentary report, as it leaves Member States with the possibility to go way further, thus leading to a risk of fragmentation at the European level. The sporting goods industry welcomes the reference to international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights and the OECD guidelines on due diligence. FESI further acknowledges and welcomes the MEPs’ recommendation that due diligence should be proportionate, risk-based and should take into account undertakings’ means. It regrets though the lack of formal recognition of the role of collaborative industry schemes. The latter play a crucial role in increasing effectiveness and leverage and can help companies, especially SMEs, meeting their responsibilities. Finally, on the proposed scope, FESI would like to recall that according to the UN Guiding Principles, due diligence should cover adverse human rights impacts that the business enterprise may cause or contribute to through its own activities, or which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships.
Building on the fruitful exchanges FESI had during a recent webinar organised by the Federation with key representatives of the European institutions and the civil society, FESI and its members are now ready to further engage with the European Commission on the concrete recommendations outlined in our position paper and to reflect together on the best options to support a comprehensive European wide approach on due diligence.