EUROPE - A new European law forcing multinationals to disclose their social and environmental impact in annual reports could be in place by the end of the year, according to Labour Euro-MP Richard Howitt.
The European Parliament’s recent approval of draft proposals marks the first step towards Europe’s first ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ measure. The move could result in legislation against European corporate abuses in developing countries, and Board members held personally responsible for malpractices.
Howitt, who drove the proposal through the European Parliament, said: “Suddenly every self-respecting company or international organisation has its own code of conduct. ... We are awash with ethical reports and standards which business and consumers alike, struggle to use, much less understand.”
He added that the law would aim to tackle problems such as sudden mass redundancies, environmental destruction, and the use of child labour and “sweatshops”, particularly in South-East Asia and Africa.
He added: “The Millennium Poll on social attitudes across Europe showed that one in five consumers boycott goods on ethical grounds. The portfolio of ethical investment funds, meanwhile, tops £50 billion in Britain alone.”
The European Commission is due to publish its response to the Parliament’s vote in July, along with the revision of the Fourth Company law Directive where mandatory ethical business reporting is due to be considered.
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