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EU Vice President Heidi Hautala Speaks at BIICL Webinar

Business and Human Rights Developments in Southern Europe

The webinar series on Business and Human Rights Developments in Southern Europe kicked off on the 15th of September 2020. It is jointly organised by Nova School of Law and the British Institute for International and Comparative Law.

The keynote speech was delivered by the Vice-president of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala. In recent years, much of the attention in the business and human rights field has focused overwhelmingly on a small number of Northern European countries, so Hautala welcomed the initiative of the webinar series and its focus on other jurisdictions.

She discussed recent developments at the European level following the announcement by EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, that the European Commission would introduce a legislative initiative on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence as part of the post-COVID 19 recovery package in 2021. Hautala emphasized that: 'it is now time to move from baby steps to giant strides'.

For the first episode of the webinar series, the spotlight was on Portugal. The panel analysed some of the key findings of the first national survey on Business and Human Rights in Portugal, the current legal landscape in relation to human rights and environmental responsibilities of companies, relevant instances before the Portuguese OECD National Contact Point, as well as taking in practical insights and perspectives from academics, government representatives, NGOs, legal practitioners, trade unions, and business. The next webinars will look at Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Greece. We are already planning follow-up series which will look at the Business and Human Rights Developments in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin American, Asia, and Africa.

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