Business & Human Rights in European Union policies

Project

Business & Human Rights in European Union policies

Dr. Chiara Macchi (Law Group) assesses the coherence of the European Union’s approach to business and human rights.
She has been awarded a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to conduct a 2-year project on ‘The EU as a leading global actor in Business and Human Rights: Towards a coherent policy framework’ (BHR_EU), focusing on the coherence of EU policies in the realm of business and human rights.

Relevance of the research

The European Union (EU) is a leading global actor in the domain of Business and Human Rights (BHR) given the importance of its market and the advanced regulatory efforts it has put in place in relevant domains. Human rights and sustainable development are core EU values and lay at the basis of its Common Commercial Policy (CCP). While being one of the major and most active voices in the BHR debate of the last decades, the EU does not currently have in place a comprehensive BHR policy framework capable of ensuring coherence between its human rights obligations, its CSR policies and its trade and investment policies. At the same time, in the EU approach to BHR, a tension persists between a voluntaristic model of CSR and the adoption of hard-law solutions capable of inducing change in business practices and of improving access to effective remedies in Europe for victims of business-related human rights abuses. While the announced EU Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct has not been adopted, yet, there are growing calls on the EU from civil society, Member States, MEPs and representatives of national Parliaments to adopt binding legislation in several BHR-related policy areas. As the EU is one of the main supporters of a meaningful implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and has taken a critical stance on the possible adoption of an international binding treaty in this domain, it has a strong interest in ensuring the coherence and credibility of its approach to BHR.

Research aims

It is against this background that the BHR_EU project analyzes the EU’s leading role in BHR while highlighting areas of policy incoherence and inconsistency, as well as proposing ways to elaborate and devise an effective EU policy framework on BHR. The research will come to conclusions on how to more effectively integrate human rights considerations into the CCP, as well as on the necessity to work towards the adoption of EU-level human rights due diligence legislation.

Supervision

The research is carried out under the supervision of Prof. Nadia Bernaz of the Law Group.

Network

In the course of her research, Dr. Macchi will spend a short secondment period at the Centre for EU Studies of the University of Ghent, directed by Prof. Jan Orbie.