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Promoting corporate social responsibility

The Commission promotes corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the European Union and globally. It therefore sets priorities and measures on CSR matters in order to better use the potential of enterprises in helping to achieve sustainable development and the objectives of the strategy for growth and employment.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2006 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee - Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility [COM(2006) 136 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary integration of social and environmental objectives into the commercial activities of enterprises and into their relationships with their partners.

CSR meets the objectives of the European Union’s (EU) social policy and the Strategy for Sustainable Development. This practice can also be of benefit to innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

Contributing to sustainable growth and employment

In the context of increased global competition and an ageing population, the EU must stimulate the production of enterprises which respect their social responsibilities. CSR may contribute to:

  • the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the labour market;
  • an increase in investment in skills development, lifelong learning and the employability of employees;
  • improvements in public health, for example by means of voluntary labeling of foodstuffs and non-toxic chemicals;
  • innovation on social and environmental matters;
  • reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources (obtaining the European Ecolabel scheme and investments in eco-innovation, etc.);
  • the respect for European values and standards on human rights, environmental protection and employment;
  • the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

European alliance for CSR

The Commission supports the establishment of an alliance to act as an umbrella for CSR initiatives. The Commission encourages the sharing of experience and good practice between enterprises, communicating the results to the public and the development of resources dedicated to CSR.

The new instrument is open to European enterprises of all sizes, on a voluntary basis. Their level of participation is flexible as no formal requirements are imposed.

Actions for promoting CSR

The development of CSR practice must involve a wide range of actors, including trade unions, investors, consumers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this context, the Commission focuses on the following aspects in particular:

  • establishing a strengthened partnership that is broader than the alliance, including not only businesses but also all relevant stakeholders and national and regional authorities (particularly in Member States where CSR is a less well-known concept, as well as in acceding and candidate countries);
  • supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives, involving social partners and NGOs at sectoral level;
  • cooperating with Member States within the Group of High-Level National Representatives on CSR in order to mobilise the national and regional instruments;
  • raising consumer awareness of the impact of their choices;
  • incorporating CSR in the curricula of business schools and other education institutions;
  • promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • respecting international benchmarks, such as the MDGs and the Global Compact for businesses.
Last updated: 20.05.2011

See also

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