The "Principles for Better Self- and Co-regulation" are designed to offer guidance in cases where two or more actors (public or private) decide to work together to improve the status quo, by resolving a problem or exploiting an opportunity. They offer a benchmark for effective SR/CR but are not final or comprehensive.

The Principles for Better Self- and co- Regulation reflect a global literature of good practices emerging from different initiatives in the broader field of cooperative voluntarism. When applied, they will help SR/CR practitioners to gain better recognition, respect, and credibility for their SR/CR efforts. Developed by open consultation, they are free for use.

The "Principles" at a glance


  • Participants - As many as possible potential useful actors should be represented
  • Openness - Envisaged actions should be prepared openly and involve all interested parties
  • Good faith - Different capabilities of participants should be taken into account, activities outside the action's scope should be coherent with the aim of the action and participants are expected to commit real effort to success
  • Objectives – Must be set out clearly and unambiguously and include targets as well as indicators for evaluation purposes
  • Legal compliance – Actions must be designed in compliance with applicable law and fundamental rights as enshrined in EU and national law


  • Iterative improvements - A prompt start, with accountability and a process of "learning by doing", with sustained interaction between all participants
  • Monitoring - Conducted in a way that is sufficiently open and autonomous to command respect from all interested parties
  • Evaluation - To allow participants to assess whether the action may be concluded, improved or replaced
  • Resolving disputes - By ensuring they receive timely attention. Non compliance should be subject to a graduated scale of sanctions.
  • Financing - Participants will provide the means necessary to fulfil the commitments, and participation of civil society organisations may be supported by public funders or others.

The Principles strike a balance between the need for flexibility & freedom of initiative, and the need for accountable and efficient SR/CR actions to deliver on their societal goals. By definition, they are not designed to cover all activities of any given entity. They are relevant to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the sense that SR/CR initiatives are often a means by which enterprises seek to better meet their social responsibility (read more on the articulation between CSR and SR/CR). Multinational enterprises are invited to follow these best practice Principles in the spirit of the OECD.

The Principles do not interfere in any way with the Regulation on European Standardisation, nor with any specific arrangements applying to standardisation. The same applies to social dialogue.

They will be used as one building block in the review of the IA Guidelines that has been announced in the context of the Communication on EU Regulatory Fitness.

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NB: These best practice Principles are entirely without prejudice to the Commission's right of initiative, to the exercise of legislative and regulatory discretion, notably regarding the choice of appropriate instruments for legislation or regulation, which remains to be judged case by case, and to the Commission's competence as guardian of the Treaty, which covers the right to initiate infringement proceedings. Given the current situation, and the programme of global and European regulatory reform under way, it is usually thought inappropriate to consider self- and co-regulation approaches for financial sector rule-making.

22 August 2014
Last update: 
19 September 2014
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