In July 2001, the European Commission issued a Green Paper on a European framework for corporate social responsibility (CSR). The aim was to launch a wide debate among the stakeholders. The consultation phase ended on 31 December 2001. For an overview of the policy history of CSR in the EU see EurActiv’s “Important steps for CSR”.

The Green Paper discussed the role CSR plays in the business environment in the EU today. It raised the potential problem of many different reporting, rating and auditing systems. The Green Paper also discussed the potential role of the EU in disseminating good practice, stimulating initiatives and providing a harmonised framework.

From the responses to the Green Paper, it is clear that there are important differences between industry’s opinions and most NGOs’ on an EU framework. The Commission has created a web-page where the stakeholders’ comments can be read. However, to facilitate an overview and a comparison of the different view points, EurActiv has made a timesaving table of the most interesting contributions (“Forces@Work”).

Next steps:
In July 2002 the Commission is expected to issue a communication, which will outline action programmes for the near future. These issues are likely to be discussed:

* steps towards a more harmonised reporting and labelling system;
* development of a discussion forum;
promotion of research programmes on CSR;
* proposals on how to integrate CSR into other policy areas.