Common European regulation on human rights in supply chains now essential

    Berlin, February 11, 2021

    VDA President Hildegard Müller responds to presentation of draft supply chain law by appealing for European regulation

    The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and its member companies see respecting and protecting human rights along automotive supply chains as a duty and an obligation. “We are committed to respecting human rights at our facilities around the world,” declared VDA President Hildegard Müller. “We therefore welcome the fact that the Government has now agreed on a draft. However, the VDA now regards a common European regulation as essential to ensure protection of human rights along the supply chain.”

    “National approaches lead to a patchwork of different regulations in Europe and worldwide, which will be too complicated for small and medium-sized companies in particular, and undermine the goal of effective protection for human rights,” the VDA president explained. Müller continued, “The German Government must now work to ensure that an appropriate and practicable solution is found in Brussels, which is aligned with the German regulation.”

    The VDA has rejected civil liability for violations of human rights in companies along supply chains with complex ramifications, where there is no contractual relationship. “We welcome the fact that such liability is no longer envisaged in the current draft. We also reject a right for trade unions and NGOs to bring actions on behalf of foreign workers before German courts for human rights violations in other countries.”

    “Numerous companies in the vehicle industry are already working intensively on human rights due diligence even beyond their direct suppliers. A large number of automotive companies are already documenting successful human rights protection in supply chains in the ‘Drive Sustainability’ initiative. That has also been acknowledged and praised by politicians. These efforts should be recognized in future legal regulations – at both national and European level – through safe-harbor provisions or equivalent rules,” Müller stated.