Reforming EU Company Law to Secure the Future of European Business
University of Oslo Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021-05
Preprint of article in European Company and Financial Law Review, 2/2021.
24 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2021 Last revised: 10 Dec 2021
Date Written: March 4, 2021
The world faces a complex convergence of social and ecological crises: climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, human rights violations, rising inequality and societal instability. The United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for ‘the future of humanity and of our planet’, calling on business to contribute to solving these pressing challenges. Yet business in aggregate is a driver of the current convergence of crises and the discussion of how to promote sustainable business is therefore high up also on the agenda of the European Union (EU). The EU increasingly shows recognition of the need for regulatory initiatives to promote the integration of sustainability into European business, resonating with the EU’s high-level commitment to sustainability. This article is a contribution to the discourse on how to regulate European business so that it contributes to a sustainable future for all, including for European business itself. The article briefly outlines the basis in the EU treaties for reform of EU company law and the risks of continued unsustainability, moving on to the argument for including company law in the legislative toolbox, and outlining ideas for how such a reform could be shaped.
Keywords: EU Green Deal, corporate purpose, company law, corporate board, due diligence, sustainability, global value chains, human rights, climate change, biodiversity, planetary boundaries, social foundation, sustainable finance, sustainable corporate governance, circular economy, sustainability reporting
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