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José Manuel Barroso, PT

former President of the EU Commission, on the significance of social entrepreneurship and CSR

During the course of the last decade we have become increasingly aware of the fact that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of a world in which competitiveness and sustainable development go hand in hand. In fact, CSR stands for a new kind of economic system that is based on value creation both for companies and for society, and in which the role that companies play is redefined. More and more European companies are integrating principles of social responsibility into their strategies and workflows. An ambitious CSR policy can have a positive influence on sustainable growth and job creation, while at the same time taking into account the interests of the company itself, its employees and stakeholders. As a result of the economic crisis, CSR is now even more relevant than before and is vital to the credibility of Europe’s social market economy.

 

In this respect, companies should begin a process in which they identify, avoid and minimise the potentially negative effects of their activity on the environment. At the same time, they should maximise the value creation for the company owner or shareholders, other stakeholders and society in general. Therefore companies should carry out a detailed risk-oriented evaluation (due diligence) that corresponds to the size and type of their activity.

 

A long-term strategic approach towards CSR, and the exploration of possibilities that innovative products, services and business models offer, can contribute to society’s welfare and lead to higher-quality and more productive jobs. As corporate social responsibility requires a great degree of interaction with internal and external stakeholders, companies are able to foresee societal changes and to benefit from that.

 

CSR means going beyond legal regulations and implementing the social model of sustainable development. In today’s world, an active commitment to social responsibility is equivalent to embedding social and environmental issues in business workflows. Some European companies are exceptionally far advanced in their understanding of the risks and opportunities that are connected to various social problems, and have developed innovative business models through which they are able to offer solutions for some of these problems.

 

Corporate social responsibility and sustainability have become cross-divisional topics in an ever-increasing number of companies. The Commission recognises such good practices and strives to continue its support of these companies in their efforts to introduce social and environment-related innovations.