Commission Vice-President GÃÃ??nter Verheugen pointed out: Many SMEs actively address social and environmental concerns without communicating what they do to their clients and communities. Situating their action in the context of CSR will leverage their responsible behaviour into business advantage. There are many examples already of socially responsible enterprises generating sustainable development, but Europe needs more entrepreneurs travelling down this road to success. This is how CSR will contribute to the broader EU policy objective of enhancing economic competitiveness and achieving more growth and better jobs.

A conference on June 14 took stock of the success of a pan-European campaign to raise awareness about CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The campaign has brought to light numerous examples, like those quoted above, of European SMEs that already see their social and environmental performance as part of their route to business success. The cleaning company from Lyon has seen higher productivity levels and greater client satisfaction because its employees are more motivated and enjoy more self-respect. The Welsh video production company is helping to regenerate the social and economic fabric of an isolated rural area. And the Maltese company, by protecting Malta†s natural resources, is helping to safeguard the very future of the tourism industry on which it depends.

Commission Vice-President GÃÃ??nter Verheugen, MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews, and the new Commission SME Envoy, Maive Rute, participated in the conference and discussed future activities to foster CSR amongst small businesses.

The campaign was implemented by UEAPME (European Association of Craft SMEs) and EUROCHAMBRES (Association of European Chambers of Commerce). It involved the organisation of 65 events in the 25 Member States, the 3 candidate countries and in Norway. These events saw over 150 different SMEs from across Europe present their own CSR practices and experiences. In addition, together with UEAPME and EUROCHAMBRES, the Commission produced a CSR-for-SMEs toolkit which includes a simple, SME-friendly questionnaire designed to help enterprises enhance their CSR activities.