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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Social policy

Social policy on corporate social responsibility.

The proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council in November 2017 was the fourth major attempt to strengthen the social dimension of the European Union since its inception. The Pillar of Social Rights is about better delivering on rights for citizens by building on 20 key principles.

Business and Human Rights: The growing complexity and globalisation of supply chains renders it increasingly important to promote the application of high human rights and sustainability standards in EU countries and around the world. In line with this, the EU is a frontrunner in implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the first globally agreed standard to prevent, address and remedy negative effects on human rights caused by business activities.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) also covers the aspects of Business and Human Rights in its work.

Action plan on Human rights and Democracy: The action plan aims to improve EU leadership on human rights and streamline its decision-making, strengthen partnerships with governments, businesses and social partners, address accountability gaps and erosion of the rule of law.

The Commission communication on Decent Work Worldwide reaffirms the EU's commitment to champion decent work both at home and around the world. The elimination of child labour and forced labour is at the heart of this endeavour.

Forced labour: The EU has several laws in place to tackle forced labour, for instance on human trafficking and on sanctions against employers of migrants in an irregular situation. In addition, the European Commission has issued guidance to help EU businesses comply with international standards on forced labour in their operations and supply chains.

In 2022 the Commission has also put forward a Proposal for a Regulation on prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market.

Child labour: The EU continuously works to address the root causes of child labour by tackling poverty, inequalities, increasing access to quality education and social protection, promoting due diligence for sustainable supply chains, and supporting partner governments, local actors and businesses, especially in the most affected countries. 

Gender equality: The EU has made significant progress in gender equality over the last decades. The goal is a Union where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free to pursue their chosen path in life, have equal opportunities to thrive, and can equally participate in and lead our European society.

Combatting discrimination: Article 10 of the Treaty for the European Union states the right to equality and non-discrimination. It stipulates that in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the EU shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Data protection: The right to privacy and the protection of data is a fundamental aspect of modern society. In 2016 the EU adopted a General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), which regulates the processing by an individual, a company or an organisation of personal data relating to individuals in the EU. It increases the transparency on the use of data by the company or public authority.