The EU Council has pushed back its vote on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which was due to take place on Friday (9 February), following Germany’s abstention and the need for further discussions among EU Member States.

The vote is now expected to be announced on Wednesday with Fair Wear Foundation’s Alexander Kohnstamm calling on all involved to ensure it passes swiftly.

Of course, a fashion sustainability directive is essential and there is no doubt the EU has paved the way.

A sensible delay?

But, as we reach this so-called critical stage of the legislation, it begs the question of whether it makes more sense to revisit the idea of a global directive rather than an EU-specific one. Perhaps this is the way to shift the needle on corporate sustainability due diligence once and for all? It certainly would result in less duplication and contradicting of rules.

Last month we heard from the Bangladesh apparel sector trade body which bravely spoke out to call for more “universal” due diligence laws.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)’s president said what many fashion manufacturing countries are likely thinking: “The goal we want to achieve through implementing due diligence law is universal and desired by all. So, the legislation should be truly global and accepted in all places which is not what we are seeing.”

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He urged for greater collaboration to effectively implement due diligence laws and explained this was not “one man’s game” but rather something that needs the “support and assistance from all ends to make it successful.”

Across the pond, the US is some way away from a national sustainability legislation but New York and California are both on board.

There was a delay to California’s Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023 being passed last year, but delays to legislation are not always a bad thing if they lead to a more effective outcome.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association said at the time of the delay that it meant all stakeholders would be able to consider what it described as the US’ first textile Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programme.

Would a sensible delay make more sense for this directive so all countries around the world can agree a set of standards around corporate sustainability due diligence that all manufacturers and brands can follow?

Surely the goal here is to make fashion more sustainable for all and not to complicate an already complex supply chain with one set of rules for the EU and another for everyone else?

But if the ship has sailed for a global discussion on corporate sustainability legislation, one can only hope the incoming EU CSDDD forms the template for others to follow in a bid to level the playing field.

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