UAPME: Corporate Social Responsibility must remain voluntary

Source: UEAPME, 19 November 2002

The implementation of CSR practices has to remain voluntary, because translating the concept of CSR into a compulsory framework would constitute an additional administrative burden for SMEs Hans Werner Mueller, UEAPMEs Secretary General, said at todays opening session of the European Multistakeholder Forum on CSR.

UEAPME also criticises the current interpretation of CSR in the European discussion. The concept overlooks a major part of SMEs community involvement as it only takes the enterprises visible activities into account. However, a majority of SMEs have taken up their social responsibilities in less visible areas – notably in the field of professional training – a long time ago. According to the SME Observatory, more than 50% of SMEs are already committed in different ways to community oriented activities. Therefore, introducing compulsory measures would be counterproductive, as it would only make SMEs administrative tasks more difficult and ultimately increase market entry costs.
UEAPME asks forum participants to consider SMEs specificity and rejects the idea of applying current CSR tools and approaches, such as exhaustive reporting, to SMEs because these tools were created for large enterprises and would be useless for SMEs.

Nonetheless, UEAPME also sees the forum as an occasion for SMEs to demonstrate their longstanding commitment to community work. UEAPME is particularly pleased with the commissions emphasis on the exchange of experiences and good practices. This information sharing method will allow SMEs to point out to fellow forum participants the particularities of SMEs with regard to social and cultural sponsoring and community involvement.

UEAPME (Union Européenne de lArtisanat et des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises / European Association of Craft, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises) is the employers organisation representing craft, trades and SMEs in Europe (EU and countries applying for accession to the EU). It represents, through 70 national and European sectoral federations, over 10 million enterprises which employ over 50 million people (EU figures, based on the membership of 22 national full member organisations: 8 million enterprises; 35 million employees). It is non-profit seeking and non-partisan, and promotes the interests of its member organisations at European level.