Netherlands developing due diligence legislation in wake of EU delay

December 2021

Tom de Bruijn, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, announced on December 2nd, 2021 that the Netherlands will develop a national due diligence law. The minister said he is ‘very disappointed’ in yet another delay from the European Commission for the EU Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence law.

The Dutch government has regularly made it clear that they strongly prefer an EU law regarding due diligence over national legislation, since this levels the playing field across the European Union. Despite the EU law not being completely off the table, and re-stating his hope for the legislation to be developed on European level, minister De Bruijn explained that in the Dutch point of view, a further delay to act is no longer justified.

By drafting national legislation, the ministry hopes to increase the pressure on the European Commission to develop EU legislation without further delay. Developing such a law on national level will make the implementation of the EUHREDD law – when it does come – swifter and easier for the Dutch legal system, as well. A third and last reason for the minister’s announcement is the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Law (Wet Zorgplicht Kinderarbeid). This law was accepted by the Dutch Senate in May 2019, but its implementation has been put on hold since then, pending the EU law that would largely overlap it.

The draft EU legislation is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Based on the statement of De Bruijn, the Dutch national law will follow along the same lines. For Dutch companies, the Minister’s announcement means an increased urgency to adhere to these international standards and best practices.

At Enact, we support our clients to adhere to the OECD guidelines and UNGPs by creating e.g., gap analysis, roadmaps, risk analysis, impact assessments and implementation plans. We understand how to translate the requirements to a practical, corporate level. On February 23rd, 2022 we are organizing a training in Amsterdam to help companies understand what is needed from them to adhere to these international guidelines, and give practical tools to do so. We will make sure to include any developments on the EU and the Dutch due diligence legislation in this training. More information and a link to register can be found here.