Businesses, induced by Germany in alarm over green supplies

Businesses, induced by Germany in alarm over green supplies

«In Italy we are not talking about it at all, but the law that entered into force this year in Germany which imposes the obligation of due diligence on supply chains, even outside the German borders, will have a huge impact on our territory, because shall be complied with by all German brand suppliers. Whether we are talking about mechanics, I am thinking of the automotive sector and the Volkswagen, BMW, Deimler or agri-food groups, with big names in large-scale distribution such as Lidl and Aldi, but also of chemicals or textiles, there are thousands of our companies that will have to adapt to the new rules on respect for workers and the environment".

It is Michele Bulgarelli, secretary of the CGIL of Bologna, who raises the alarm for the worrying silence that reigns over the LkSG law (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichengesetz, better known as the "Supply chain due diligence act"), which has applied to all German companies since last January over 3,000 employees, but which from 1 January 2024 will also be extended to companies with a thousand employees or more. Which requires them to manage and respond to social and environmental issues of supply chains, with fines of up to 2% of global turnover in case of violations. It means that all companies that will work directly with German partners will have to prepare reports to document every year that they do not pollute, do not use child labour, do not discriminate, pay fair wages.



Looking at the numbers of trade with Germany and of the corporate links between the two Alpine sides, it is clear that Emilia-Romagna SMEs are not the only ones who have to worry about being cut off from German customers due to reputational issues: Germany is the first partner of the Via Emilia with 13% of total exports and there are over 4,000 regional companies that sell on German soil. But even higher shares are recorded in Lombardy (13.6% of regional exports are in Germany), Veneto (13.7%), Piedmont (14.1%) to reach 25% in Trentino-Alto Adige.

«Germany is breaking down the European moloch laws into simpler pieces to arrive prepared for the 2030 and 2050 sustainability goals. The LkSG standard is a declination of the CSRD-Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (currently in force for large and listed companies, ed) and anticipates a similar directive now being examined by the European Parliament, which Italian companies will soon be forced to comply with. To respond to due diligence policies, the only coherent actions are ethical and social certifications such as SA 8000, ISO 14001, ISO 14044, which cannot be improvised, require months of assessment and resources», explain the technicians of Confindustria Emilia who will have a meeting next week with the Italian-German Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact of the "due diligence act".

«It is the ten-year cooperation between the Bolognese Fiom (18,000 members) and Ig Metall (80,000 members) that makes us particularly sensitive to this issue. We returned last week from the annual meeting in Wolfsburg (VW headquarters, ed) which was dedicated precisely to the law on the duty of care of suppliers», explains Bulgarelli who also involved the other acronyms of the Bolognese Chamber of Labor in the mission, because there are no exempt sectors. The Volkswagen group supply chain, where the Social Charter is already in force, will have no problems applying the LkSG, "but in a context of recession in Germany, the reorganization of supply chains and the transition to electric power, the risk that our companies mechanics are cut off from supplies is concrete», remarks the CGIL secretary. Which precisely to shorten the distances between Emilia and Germany has launched a sort of "Erasmus" for trade unionists with Ig Metall "to form a new generation of internationalized trade unions: from the second half of 2023 delegations from Wolfsburg will come to Bologna for a week of training and meetings with companies and institutions and vice versa, from Bologna to Wolfsburg».

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