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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to companies taking responsibility for their impact on society. The European Commission believes that CSR is important for the sustainability, competitiveness, and innovation of EU enterprises and the EU economy. It brings benefits for risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, and human resource management.

In the spotlight

What is CSR?

The Commission has defined CSR as the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society. CSR should be company led. Public authorities can play a supporting role through a smart mix of voluntary policy measures and, where necessary, complementary regulation.

Companies can become socially responsible by:

  • following the law;
  • integrating social, environmental, ethical, consumer, and human rights concerns into their business strategy and operations.

Why is CSR important?

  • In the interest of enterprises - CSR provides important benefits to companies in risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, HR management, and their ability to innovate.
  • In the interest of the EU economy - CSR makes companies more sustainable and innovative, which contributes to a more sustainable economy.
  • In the interests of society - CSR offers a set of values on which we can build a more cohesive society and base the transition to a sustainable economic system.

European Commission Strategy on CSR

The Commission promotes CSR in the EU and encourages enterprises to adhere to international guidelines and principles. The EU’s policy is built on an agenda for action to support this approach. It includes:

  1. Enhancing the visibility of CSR and disseminating good practices
  2. Improving and tracking levels of trust in business
  3. Improving self and co-regulation processes
  4. Enhancing market rewards for CSR
  5. Improving company disclosure of social and environmental information
  6. Further integrating CSR into education, training, and research
  7. Emphasising the importance of national and sub-national CSR policies
  8. Better aligning European and global approaches to CSR.

To evaluate the CSR strategy, the Commission launched a Public Consultation on CSR 2011-2014: achievements, shortcomings, and future challenges in 2014.

Multi-stakeholder forum on CSR

The Commission is managing the CSR file in close cooperation with stakeholders. Around key milestones, multi-stakeholder forums are convened with a large number of participants. The last multi-stakeholder forum took place on 3-4 February 2015. Read the Executive Summary of 2015 CSR forum Choose translations of the previous link .

On a more regularly basis, the Commission meets with a Coordination Committeepdf Choose translations of the previous link  (21 kB) to discuss recent developments and receive feedback on its actions.

Guidelines and Principles that the Commission’s CSR strategy is built upon:

Key Documents and links: