The EU’s bi-annual multi-stakeholder forum on Corporate Social Responsibility took place at the Commission in Brussels on February 3-4. Cooperatives Europe was invited to the panel on ‘CSR as a driver for innovation, competitiveness & growth’. This panel highlighted some best company practices, but above all discussed recommendations for the EU’s future CSR strategy.
Panelists highlighted the importance of an enabling legal framework for innovation. This requires a level-playing field for companies, thereby preventing unfair competition and the reverse of the ongoing race to the bottom in many competitive markets.. CSR needs to be embedded into a larger framework as most companies and organisations see CSR already as part of their sustainability strategy. Such a framework needs to take into consideration the issues of transparency & accountability, the education and governance of the multi-stakeholders. CSR is not just about companies’ responsibility, but also of the politicians, media and civil society to be credible!
Klaus Niederlander, Director of Cooperatives Europe, commented on the joint discussions: While businesses and their associations as well as the Commission administration were well involved, there was a complete lack of absence of Commissioners at the forum. One has to seriously question the political commitment in Europe about the role of CSR in developing a competitive and at the same time responsible EU economy. The multi-stakeholder forum can be a great tool for exchange, if there is a serious forward-looking EU policy approach. Cooperatives can provide specific additional insights into CSR thanks to their specific member-owned and democratically controlled business model.
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