Looks like regulation to me – Commission draft guidance consultation on the ‘Corporate Responsibility to Respect’

The UN Guiding principles on business and human rights were adopted in 2011, after having been developed by prof John Ruggie and team. The aim of the principles effectively (and in my view) is to create a halfway house between full duties (and rights?) of multinational corporations under public international law (especially in the human rights and environmental field), on the one hand, and complete lack of accountability of those MNCs under the same law, on the other.

CSR originally was firmly meant as a market-based instrument for sustainable development. Ignoring the alleged mistakes of a command and control approach to sustainable development, CSR would allow companies voluntarily to gain a proactive sustainable development profile, thus gaining consumer appreciation, whence serving the three P’s: People, Planet, Profit. As so often, though, these market-based instruments gradually look ever more like the command and control approach which they profess to despise.

Exactly this is happening to the UN Guiding Principles, at least as further developed by the European Commission. It is in the process of formulating sector-specific guidance [for employment and recruitment agencies; ICT; and oil and gas] for companies to implement the UN Guiding principles. This may mean either that command and control approaches to sustainable development are not half as bad as they are made out to be; and /or that in the end, voluntarism in sustainable development will never be enough to help achieve it.


The proposed 7th EU Environment Action Plan. Does a lack of exciting blog entry title signal lack of excitement in its subject-matter?

This call is a difficult one. Everyone knows that the true impact of law and policy is made not in grand statements but in the hard graft of Statutes, implementation, compliance and litigation. Whence I am not a fan of new versions of core principles in, say international environmental law (Rio+20 comes to mind): the old principles do the job just fine.

In the EU, Environment(al) Action Programs or ‘EAP’s’ go back some time: 1973, 1977, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2002. The latter, the sixth, covered a 12 year period. The Commission have now proposed the 7th, which is to run until 2020.  It is entitled ‘”Living well, within the limits of our planet”, which is of course reminiscent of the Club of Rome Report on Limits to Growth.  There are nine priorities in the EAP. Will they change the world? Not in and of themselves. Do they distract and divert time which would have been better spent on detail? Probably. However they might focus the minds of the Commission officials who are in charge of policy formulation, and implementation, and of the Member States who are supposed to be the enforcers par excellence.



ECJ confirms AG’s Opinion in Otis: EC can sue for damages itself after having acted as antitrust enforcer

The ECJ has today, 6 November 2012, confirmed Cruz Villalón  AG’s  Opinion in Case C-199/11, European Union v Otis et al. The EC’s role in antitrust enforcement does not rule out future action in damages by the same institution, also on behalf of others, provided safeguards are met. For my earlier post on the AG’s Opinion, see here.




Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. On the Boundaries of European Private International Law and the European Ius Commune

A bit of a heavy-handed title however I am often reminded of this maxim, credited (perhaps incorrectly) to Benjamin Disraeli KG. Over at SSRN I refer to it in discussing the statistical merits of the proposed Common European Sales Law. Over and above the (lack of) justification for the proposal, its relationship with European Private International Law is very unclear. The European Commission marches on with its harmonisation of European conflicts law however I for one would argue that with the proposed CESL it may have hit the proverbial wall.



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