Transnational corporations enjoy enormous power. Their resources dwarf those of many nation states but their power is not always exercised with care as numerous examples of corporate human rights violations and environmental damage show.

On 26 June 2014 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for an intergovernmental working group to establish binding rules for businesses in relation to human rights – a process commonly referred to as the “Treaty”. This historic decision means that international human rights law will for the first time apply to the activities of transnational corporations.

The European Commission and EU member states proudly claim to actively promote and defend human rights internally and abroad. But the EU permanent mission in Geneva and member states have tried to frustrate and derail the progress of this working group.

This paper outlines how the European Commission and EU member states are aggressively pushing rights for businesses, but refusing to engage in constructive talks at the UN level on establishing rights for people affected by the activities of those companies.