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SOMO joins the call of a coalition of civil society organizations for the EU and its member states to focus on a collective redressCollective redress is a term used in the EU for a mechanism allowing group proceedings where parties harmed by unlawful practice can claim injunctions and compensation, equivalent to class action. Unlike in Australia, the U.S. or Australia, this mechanism is either not available, or is subject to restrictive conditions within the EU. mechanism which protects all fundamental rights of EU citizens. Unfortunately, current efforts by the EU to develop a collective redress mechanism focus on consumer protection exclusively. This is a step in the right direction, but at the same time a disappointment as this marks a departure from the EU’s initial stance: a horizontal approach to collective redress in respect of violations of all rights.

Justice, fairness, and equality are values often trumpeted by the EU and rightly so; they form the cornerstone of our democratic societies. However, the power imbalance between individuals and large companies can effectively block victims of harm caused by business activities from seeking redress through judicial means, as the costs and risks are too high for the average individual. The solution to this problem lies in enabling effective means for collective redress at the EU level.

A horizontal approach would enable collective redress for violations of environmental, labour, anti-discrimination, privacy and investor rights. Violations of these type of rights have the potential to impact complete societies – beyond consumer rights. Unfortunately, accusations of human right violations linked to the operations and activities of corporations have reached alarming levels.

For these reasons SOMO joins the call on the EU and its member states to:

Prepare a legislative proposal for EU collective redress that applies to all instances of harm caused by corporate entities including that which in nature relates to the environment, privacy, discrimination, or which in any way violates fundamental rights.