Spanish law cannot be left out of the progress we are witnessing in environmental matters at both an EU and international level. Given the situation, businesses need to be ready to face the challenges set by Europe and how this will affect their production processes, paying special attention to the supervisory role that workers’ statutory representatives will be acknowledged to have.

Environmental experts coincide in affirming that 2022 is key to the progress of sustainability policies in Europe and, as a result, the spotlight is now on action by the EU in fulfilling the commitments reached in the European Green Deal.

Consistent with the development of this environmental policy, the EU has said that it will adopt important measures to improve its leadership in sustainable financing, with a view to strategically redirecting public and private money towards activities that meet certain sustainability requirements.

In this context, one of the most important questions that is being assessed and discussed by member states, is which environmental obligations companies will need to comply with.

The situation in France and the rest of Europe

Many of Spain’s neighboring countries are one step ahead and have already established corporate obligations in this area. For example the French law on the duty of parent and principal companies to monitor environmental aspects. This law requires companies to prepare annual monitoring plans to report on the measures and steps they are applying to ensure respect for the environment. It also acknowledges that the most important labor unions of companies have the authority to control and supervise the enforcement of the environmental monitoring plans that are being applied.

It is evident that the European environmental engine has already set off and as has occurred in other matters such as equality, human rights, work/life balance, etc., we need to be prepared for labor legislation obligations that will, in the short term, lay down environmental requirements for companies, and give the workers’ statutory representatives powers to supervise businesses’ compliance with such requirements.

The need for legislation in Spain

Although it is true that Spanish labor law does not at present include any corporate environmental obligations, we must bear in mind article 64.2.b of the Workers’ Statute, which recognizes “the right of works’ committees to receive information quarterly on the recent and probable progress of activities in the company, including environmental actions that have a direct impact on employment”.

With these background facts, it is clear that environmental protection is going to play a major role and will be immediately applied in practice in all economic areas.