Global Value Chains and Responsible Business Conduct - Legal Developments in the Netherlands

By Jeroen Veldman, 2 February 2022

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Jeroen Veldman, Associate Professor Corporate Governance, Nyenrode Business Universiteit 

The debate is shifting rapidly – and institutional reform is coming fast

The debate on corporate governance and regulation is shifting rapidly. The overshooting of planetary boundaries and rising social inequality inform the development of comprehensive new institutions that directly affect the operation of corporate governance, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the OECD Guidelines and the European Green Deal. However, many questions remain as to how such broad international policy frameworks may be implemented into laws and policies at the state level. Likewise, the level of coherence between the implementation in European Member States and the ambitions at the EU level is questionable.

Our Special Issue shows the state of the art of what’s going on in the Netherlands

The issue of regulatory coherence was the central topic in a workshop organized by Liesbeth Enneking and Jeroen Veldman supported by the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity project at the Erasmus School of Law. The presentations in the workshop led to a Special Issue that focused on relevant rules, case law and policies relating to global value chains in various fields of Dutch law.

Scheltema addresses the International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements in eleven sectors of Dutch industry, while Enneking discusses the adoption in 2019 of the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Act. Arcuri and Verbeek then discuss a new model text for bilateral investment treaties presented in 2019 by the Dutch government. Enneking focuses on a number of recent civil and criminal liability cases in relation to human rights-related or environmental harm against Netherlands-based internationally operating business enterprises. And Van ’t Foort looks at decisions by the Dutch National Contact Point in relation to complaints filed over alleged violations by Dutch companies of the norms set out in the OECD Guidelines. Two case studies relating to Netherlands-based companies in the global waste industry, presented by Van Wingerde and Bisschop, exemplify the detrimental consequences for people and the environment that may ensue if regulations fail to provide guidance. And Cseres takes a look at Dutch energy law and policy to show how (part of) the responsibility to avoid business-related harm to people and the environment may fall to consumers. Finally, the contribution by Lokin and Veldman explores how the Dutch regulatory setting has developed a comprehensive system of soft and hard law instruments to safeguard both shareholders’ interests and sustainability.

A sustainable future through policy coherence

Together, the contributions to the Special Issue provide an overview of the best practices and limitations with regard to the coherence between national and supranational institutions in the Netherlands. By assessing these instruments and the potential for further policy coherence, the Special Issue seeks to contribute to the development of the conditions for a sustainable future within planetary boundaries (Sjåfjell and Veldman).

Tags: Business and global value chains, Sustainability
Published Feb. 2, 2022 3:14 PM - Last modified Sep. 3, 2022 2:46 AM