(Brussels) – The Global Compact hailed the introduction of a new directive on corporate social responsibility (CSR) for Europe, put forth by the European Commission this week in Brussels. In its first statement on the issue in five years, the Commission provides recommendations for companies to integrate social, environmental and ethical concerns into their core operations and strategies.
The strategy is based on a new definition of corporate responsibility that moves beyond voluntary engagement and meeting basic legal requirements by companies, and emphasizes both the concept of shared value and the “do no harm” approach. Also significant is the explicit focus of the strategy on human rights and the close alignment with the UN Guiding Principles, which provide an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity.
The package of measures “aims to help enterprises achieve their full potential in terms of creating wealth, jobs and innovative solutions to the many challenges facing Europe’s society. It sets out how enterprises can benefit from CSR as well as contributing to society as a whole by taking greater steps to meet their social responsibility.”
The Global Compact is featured in the newly-released strategy, in which the European Commission issues an “invitation” to “[a]ll large European enterprises to make a commitment by 2014 to take account of at least one of the following sets of principles and guidelines when developing their approach to CSR: the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, or the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility.”
“We welcome the European Commission’s new strategy on corporate responsibility, which is aligned with the Global Compact’s approach to fully integrate sustainability issues into companies’ strategies and operations in a way that benefits economies and societies everywhere,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “We look forward to broadening and deepening our engagement with European enterprises in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption.”
The UN Global Compact is represented across Europe by more than 5,000 participants and approximately 30 Local Networks. Currently nine of the top 20 countries with the highest corporate representation in the Global Compact are European, led by Spain (1), France (2), Denmark (5), the United Kingdom (8) and Germany (10).
European Strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility
UN Global Compact
stausberg @ un.org