EU CSR Policy Co-Design: A Shopping Basket Voluntary Approach

Mititelu, Cristina and Fiorani, Gloria (2018). EU CSR Policy Co-Design: A Shopping Basket Voluntary Approach. In: Tench, Ralph; Jones, Brian and Sun, William eds. The Critical State of Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe. Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability, 12. Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 17–38.




The chapter aims to explore the corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy domain at EU decision-making level, aiming to understand the nature of the participation shaping the CSR policy agenda co-design.


Building on a conceptual framework of participation, the chapter highlights the literature and policy views around the importance of EU CSR policy and how EU envisage the framework of the CSR policy co-design. By highlighting conceptual dimensions of the participatory governance, different levels of participation that shape the policy are evidenced. In particular, a case analysis emphasising the predominant role of the consultation approach in the decision-making process of the CSR policy is undertaken.


The findings shed light on the shift from the traditional passive participation in EU CSR policy decision making, based on purely communications towards consultation and multi-stakeholders participation. From the multi-stakeholder perspective, the EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum’s strategic relevance is observed, however, with no clear mechanisms to enforce its aims. Although the CSR policy is a core priority on the policy agenda, its voluntary approach justifies its early stages of implementation and fragmented use.

Research limitations/implications:

The research is qualitative, based on literature review and policy view. Further research directions could enrich the chapter.


The research contributes to the theoretical discussion around participation in a supranational context. Our insights shed light on the levels of participation and CSR policy goals and call for a critical debate on the EU policy co-design processes. Furthermore, through the lens of a case analysis, it sheds light on how EU CSR forum fits in with the current EU structure and its ‘principle of subsidiarity’, which states that decisions must be taken close to its citizens.

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