Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The European Commission's definition of CSR is:
"A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis."
The European Commission has made a commitment to put forward a new policy initiative on corporate social responsibility in 2011.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
If Europe and its enterprises are to reap the full benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is vital to make sure that SMEs are fully engaged and that what they do is fully recognised.
Subscribe to the European Responsible Entrepreneurship Bulletin, a bi-monthly electronic newsletter on CSR and small businesses, by sending an email with "subscribe" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporate Social Responsibility and competitiveness
In a globalized economy, CSR is often claimed as a unique proposition of Europe’s businesses to gain and sustain competitive advantages.
Linking CSR with competitiveness could foster the dissemination of a more strategic approach to CSR.
A new report [2 MB] , written for the European Commission by a team from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, explores the links between CSR and competitiveness in the construction, textiles and chemicals sectors.
Business and human rights
The framework put forward in 2008 by Professor John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, has given new momentum and direction to the business and human rights agenda.
In June 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed these Guiding Principles [136 KB] for the implementation of the framework .
The European Union played an important role in the renewal of Professor Ruggie's mandate in 2008. A number of European Union Member States have provided direct support to his work, and the Council of Ministers Working Party on Human Rights discussed the new UN framework in May 2009.
In October 2010 the European Commission published a report on the existing legal framework for human rights and the environment applicable to European Union companies operating outside the EU [2 MB] .
CSR - Reporting and disclosure
Transparency and disclosure of CSR-related performance information have taken on particular importance in the context of the current economic and financial crisis.
Between September 2009 and February 2010 the European Commission hosted a series of multi-stakeholder workshops on the disclosure of environmental, social and governance (ESG) information. Representatives from business, investment funds, trade unions, human rights groups, governments, media and consumer organisations all shared views on the importance of ESG disclosure, and put forward proposals for European policy in this field.