CSR to stir further debate in the European Parliament

On 24 April the Employment and Social Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote on the draft report by Philip Bushill-Matthews on the Commission Communication on CSR.

Rapporteur
Bushill-Matthews:

  • Supports the view that CSR needs to be business-driven;
  • Demands that the conclusions of the EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum
    respect the needs and nature of SMEs;
  • Calls for live webcast of Round Table meetings;
  • Warns that the environmental and enterprise aspects of CSR
    should not be swamped by the social considerations;
  • Suggests that the Forum conclusions in 2004 be prepared by DG
    Enterprise in consultation with DG Employment, and not the other
    way around;
  • Requests that the European Parliament should be included as an
    actor, not just an observer, in the final Forum meeting.

Four EP Committees issued opinions on the
Rapporteur's draft. All Committees have welcomed the establishment
of the EU Multi Stakeholder Forum. In addition, the
Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and
Energy
(draftsman:

Hans-Peter Martin):

  • Underlines the importance of comparable CSR criteria and the
    role of the EU Multi Stakeholder Forum in this regard, in order to
    prevent CSR from becoming arbitrary;
  • Calls on the Commission to keep a register of blacklisted
    companies, i.e. companies convicted of corruption by a court in the
    EU and proposes that such companies should not be allowed to
    receive EU contracts or orders for a period of three years;
  • Demands a new directive from the Commission within three years
    laying down criteria for triple bottom line reporting, thus
    supporting the work of the Global Reporting Initiative;
  • Requests the launch of a Global Convention on Corporate
    Accountability to ensure accountability in terms of environmental,
    social and human rights from TNCs and, in the follow-up, SMEs.

The
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer
Policy
(Draftsman:

Alexander de Roo):

  • Demands that CSR be placed firmly in the context of sustainable
    development;
  • Advocates the changing of the term "corporate social
    responsibility" to "corporate responsibility" to give adequate
    emphasis to the environmental aspect as well;
  • Underlines that companies should be required to contribute to a
    cleaner environment by law rather than solely on a voluntary
    basis;
  • Asks the Commission to speed up the process of developing
    EU-Ecolabel criteria for further product categories;
  • Calls on the Council, Commission and Member States to integrate
    CSR principles in external relations, development and trade
    policies.

The
Committee on Development and Cooperation
(Draftsman:

Michel-Ange Scarbonchi)

  • Reminds of the
    global nature of the concept of sustainable development
    and therefore advocates rules for companies so as to be applicable
    outside the EU, especially in developing countries;
  • Underlines the fact that companies cannot act in substitution
    of public authorities;
  • Demands from the Commission the creation of an agency which
    would be responsible for introducing a system for assessing and
    monitoring the implementation of international and national CSR and
    environmental standar ds;
  • Calls on the Commission to use incentives (tax measures, public
    contracts, financial aid, etc.) to encourage companies' compliance
    with international CSR standards.

The
Committee on Women's Rights and Equal
Opportunities
(Draftsperson:

Anna Karamanou)

  • Underlines that the promotion of women's entrepreneurship may
    strengthen companies' sense of social and environmental
    responsibility, owing to the sensitivity of women and the priority
    they give to matters with a bearing on the quality of life;
  • Demands more dynamic policy measures to appoint women to
    leading positions in business
  • Stresses that companies should take initiatives in the context
    of CSR to take account of gender equality and equal opportunities,
    notably, as regards recruitment, pay, positions of responsibility
    and reproductive health.

 

On 21 January 2003, the Social Affairs Committee in the
European Parliament (see also
EURACTIV, 23 January
2003
) held a preliminary discussion of the
Parliament's position on the Commission Communication concerning
CSR. The Draft Report will go to a vote on 24 April 2003. 102
amendments have been introduced to the report.

 

The Committee will adopt the report on 24 April, which will
then go to plenary vote in May.

 

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