The MVO Platform, Natuur & Milieu, MVO Nederland, De Groene Zaak, VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland, appealed to Minister Kamp of Economic Affairs to remove obstacles for businesses that collaborate in initiatives that contribute to sustainability or conduct human rights due diligence.
International norms, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, explicitly request companies to act alone or in cooperation with other entities in order to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts linked to their operations. Furthermore, the Dutch government encourages cooperation both in its policies and by facilitating initiatives such as the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Green Deals and the sector-wide ICSR agreements.
Hard line against business collaboration
Nevertheless, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has taken a hard line in recent cases towards sustainability and CSR initiatives in which businesses collaborate. This has created a chilling effect, making Dutch businesses more reluctant to participate in them.
An unusually broad coalition of co-signers (including the main business associations and environmental organisations) called on the government to adopt the following measures to support the success of collaborative sustainability and CSR initiatives:
- Let the ACM use the flexibility provided in current legislation;
- Be more clear in advance about what is and what is not permissible, and facilitate businesses that want to undertake sustainability initiatives; and
- Launch a debate about a review of the European competition legislation.