New EU Definition and Strategy for CSR

The European Union publishes 2011 – 2014 strategy on CSR

The new definition of CSR in the eyes of the European Union is

The responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society.

It’s only a fifteen page document and well worth a read as another stake in the ground for the accelerating development of CSR as a core business consideration. It never goes as far as many stakeholders would have liked it to, but then again it never was. For me it’s a pretty well balanced carrot and stick approach that owes much to work already done for ISO 26000.

There is one particular paragraph that sums up the ethos of CSR beyond the above definition:

To maximise the creation of shared value, enterprises are encouraged to adopt a long term, strategic approach to CSR, and to explore the opportunities for developing innovative products, services and business models that contribute to societal wellbeing and lead to higher quality and more productive jobs.

…which sounds scarily like my usual description when defending CSR.

The rest of the document outlines the alignment with global standards, recent economic challenges, business of all sizes (corporate to SME) and other complimentary developments such as the Social Business Initiative (SBI).

For me, actions speak louder than words, so here’s a collated and abridged list of the specific “Agenda for Action 2011 – 2014” listed in the strategy:

  1. Create in 2013 multi-stakeholder CSR platforms in a number of relevant industrial sectors.
  2. Launch from 2012 onwards a European scheme for CSR partnerships between enterprises and other stakeholders.
  3. Address the issue of misleading marketing related to the environmental impacts of products (so-called ‘greenwashing’).
  4. Initiate an open debate with citizens, enterprises and other stakeholders on the role and potential of business in the 21st century.
  5. Launch a process in 2012 with enterprises and other stakeholders to develop a code of good practice for self and co-regulation exercises.
  6. Facilitate the better integration of social and environmental considerations into public procurement.
  7. Consider a requirement on all investment funds and financial institutions to inform all their clients about any ethical or responsible criteria they apply.
  8. Provide further financial support for education and training projects on CSR under the EU Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action Programmes.
  9. Create with Member States in 2012 a peer review mechanism for national CSR policies.
  10. Monitor the commitment made by European enterprises with more than 1,o00 employees to take account of internationally recognised principles and guidelines.
  11. Work with enterprises and stakeholders in 2012 to develop human rights guidance for a limited number of relevant industrial sectors.
  12. Publish by the end of 2012 a report on EU priorities in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles.
  13. Identify ways to promote responsible business conduct in its future policy initiatives towards more inclusive and sustainable recovery and growth in third countries.


Within the Conclusion there is a clear call to the business community to take rightful leadership for CSR development:

The Commission calls on European business leaders, including those from the financial sector, to issue, before mid 2012, an open and accountable commitment to promote, in close cooperation with public authorities and their other stakeholders, the uptake of responsible business conduct by a much larger number of EU enterprises, with clear targets for 2015 and 2020.


Congratulations to @Tom_Dodd et al!

Click here for the full document at the European Commission


What is your business going to do?


2 thoughts on “New EU Definition and Strategy for CSR

    1. davidcoethica Post author

      Hi Miguel.

      I actually like the simplicity of the EU definition, although I agree it’s simplicity may also be its weakness. I would ask why you consider CSR to be a purely voluntary ethos? We may be losing something in translation here, but in my opinion CSR has been too voluntary and easily ignored by main laggard businesses. I think I understand your point about accountability, responsibility and beyond law, but the use of the term ‘voluntary’ sends out a weak signal to those wishing to ignore social and environmental balance in favour of exploitive financial profit.



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