On 3 December, the Council adopted a resolution on the Commission’s follow-up communication to the Green Paper on CSR (see also EurActiv 4 July 2002). The Commission’s Green Paper (July 2001) started a consultation procedure on the concept of corporate social responsibility.
The Council regards CSR as a “behaviour by business over and above legal requirements.” The approach to CSR should be “balanced and broad,” including economic, social and environmental issues, as well as consumer interests. Community CSR policies should be compatible with existing international instruments, and they should aim to increase the credibility and transparency of CSR practices. In formulating those policies, attention should be paid to the specific needs of SMEs.
As globalisation has created complex organisational structures, CSR should focus not only on the companies themselves but also on their subsidiaries and subcontractors. The Council places CSR into the wider context of corporate governance and accountability and calls on companies to focus on the internal aspects of CSR, such as health and safety at work and management of human resources. CSR can only be effective if it becomes a part of a concerted effort that includes stakeholder dialogue.
The Council calls on the Commission to focus its strategy on:
increasing knowledge about the positive impact of CSR on business and societies in Europe and abroad;
promoting exchanges of experience and good practice on CSR between undertakings, including SMEs;
promoting the development of CSR management skills;
facilitating convergence and transparency of CSR practices and tools, which should build on the fundamental ILO Conventions and on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;
integrating CSR into Community policies.
The Council asks Member States to promote CSR at national level and calls on future Presidencies to continue to stimulate the debate on CSR and to maintain the Council’s involvement in the Multi-Stakeholder Forum.
The Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR (CSR EMS Forum) was launched on 16 October as a central element in the Commission’s efforts to promote CSR and sustainable development. The CSR EMS Forum is scheduled to start its roundtables in 2003 and submit a report on its conclusions to the Commission by mid-2004.