EU election manifestos 2019: what do they say about corporate accountability?

We examined the manifestos of UK political parties’ contesting the European elections, to be held in the UK on 23 May 2019. What do they say about the protection of human rights and the environment with regard to the global operations of UK companies?

Conservative Party

No manifesto.

Conservative MEPs sit in the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) group in the European Parliament. Read their manifesto here.

Labour Party

Labour’s manifesto lists among their achievements in Europe “leading the fight against the excesses of the few, delivering a cap on bankers’ bonuses and supporting regulation to curb casino capitalism.”
They say they have worked hard to “balance the need to make our country safer, with the duty to protect and promote our human rights.” They pledge to “continue to lead efforts for a new comprehensive plan to deliver rights and protections” for workers in European law.
The manifesto emphasises the regulation of trade. The party commits to “only support trade deals that promote human rights, consumer standards, environmental protections, and rights at work. Labour will protect our public services, like the NHS, from being opened up to further privatisation. Trade policy should be used to raise standards across the world, not to engage in a race to the bottom.” They also state support for the regulation of corporations with regard to tax avoidance: “Labour will support EU wide efforts to close the loopholes, increase transparency, and take action on the tax havens that operate in Europe or with the support of EU countries.” Labour MEPs sit in the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament. Read about their priorities here.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto states that “the EU can clamp down on abuses by global corporations in a way that Britain cannot do on its own, for example in tackling tax avoidance and misuse of personal data.” Under climate commitments, they state that they will build on the EU’s leadership in promoting resource efficiency and the protection of oceans and nature. Importantly, they pledge to “introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights for companies and public sector agencies.” They also commit to “an ambitious EU-wide action plan on deforestation” and to “secure trade deals that promote high standards of environmental protection, working conditions, animal welfare and food safety.” Liberal Democrat MEPs sit in the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group in the European Parliament. Read their manifesto here.

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