De vennootschap met “andere doelen”: anders is niet per se beter

Een post door gastbloggers Maxime Verheyden (doctoraatsbursaal KU Leuven) en Alain François (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Tenzij u de voorbije twee jaar zonder internet onder een steen heeft geleefd (in welk geval u best zeer voorzichtig bent bij het verlaten van die schuilplaats – hou voldoende afstand en laat u vaccineren), zal u ongetwijfeld gemerkt hebben dat het traditioneel doel van vennootschappen (het nastreven van winst om die uit te keren aan de aandeelhouders) danig onder druk staat. U kan amper een krant, laat staan een juridisch tijdschrift, openslaan of u leest wel over de Europese regelgevende initiatieven inzake onder meer sustainable finance en sustainable corporate governance, of over de door (bepaalde) investeerders,  vennootschapsbestuurders of academici aangevoelde nood om het bestuur van de vennootschap niet enkel te richten op winst voor de aandeelhouders, maar ook op andere doelstellingen, zoals de bescherming van het milieu of het bestrijden van diverse sociale uitwassen van ons huidig economisch systeem.[1]

Één van de manieren waarop de vennootschapswetgever de voorbije jaren zijn duit in het zakje kan (en o.i. moet) doen, is het expliciteren, faciliteren of zelfs reguleren dat vennootschappen naast het wettelijk verankerd winstuitkeringsdoel een andere doelstelling in hun statuten inschrijven. Vandaag bepaalt de wet zowel in België als in Frankrijk (en bepleit men in Nederland de uitdrukkelijke bevestiging van)[2] de mogelijkheid om bovenop het winstuitkeringsdoel een “ander doel” statutair te verankeren. Dit gaat niet langer per se gepaard met tal van begeleidende maatregelen verbonden aan een specifieke rechtsvorm of label, zoals geldt voor bijvoorbeeld de erkende sociale onderneming of gold voor haar voorganger, de vennootschap met een sociaal oogmerk.

Continue reading “De vennootschap met “andere doelen”: anders is niet per se beter”

Can Nudging Consumers Help Promote Corporate Social Responsibility?

Governments around the world are trying to determine how to effectively promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). It has proven to be hard to regulate for CSR, so the focus has been on other policy initiatives. On the supply side, in response to calls from governments, corporations have adopted codes of conduct and related programs to promote CSR. In the eyes of CSR activists, these efforts have produced limited progress.

Attention is also being paid to the demand side of the equation. If consumers prefer socially produced goods, corporations will have incentives to adopt strong CSR programs. Behavioural sciences have suggested less interventionist ways to steer consumer choice towards socially responsible choices, in particular through various forms of nudging and social norms. Continue reading “Can Nudging Consumers Help Promote Corporate Social Responsibility?”

Corporate Social Responsibility Debate

On November the 26th of 2018 a debate on the added value of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) took place in Leuven. Both prof. dr. Marieke Wyckaert (KU Leuven) and em. prof. dr. Viktor Vanberg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and Walter Eucken Institut) gave a short lecture and subsequently comment on each other’s point of view. Prof. dr. Joeri Vananroye moderated the debate. You can find the video of this debate below.

Continue reading “Corporate Social Responsibility Debate”

Debate on Corporate Social Responsibility: Leuven 26 November 2018

On Monday 26 November 2018 from 8 to 10 p.m., a debate on the added value of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will take place in the aula Zeger Van Hee (DV1 91.56). Both prof. dr. Marieke Wyckaert (KU Leuven) and em. prof. dr. Viktor Vanberg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and Walter Eucken Institut) will give a short lecture and subsequently comment on each other’s point of view. Prof. dr. Joeri Vananroye will provide an introduction and moderate the debate.

Continue reading “Debate on Corporate Social Responsibility: Leuven 26 November 2018”

Swiss Referendum on Implementing Supply Chain Liability

a post by guest blogger Penelope Bergkamp

Following a clear trend, Switzerland is now also considering proposals to hold  Swiss companies liable for environmental damage and human rights violations in their supply chains. Possibly inspired by the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law, the Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice (SCCJ) launched the Responsible Business Initiative (“RBI”) in 2015. The RBI involves a citizens’ petition to amend the Swiss Federal Constitution to impose “appropriate due diligence” obligations on Swiss companies in  accordance with  their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles, along with liability for breaches by their subsidiaries. In response to the RBI, the Swiss Senate adopted a somewhat narrower, less ambitious proposal. Pursuant to Article 139 of the Federal Constitution, the Swiss people will be asked to vote on the RBI in a popular referendum

This post discusses the RBI and highlights the key differences between the RBI and the Senate proposal. First, the background to the RBI proposal is briefly reviewed. I will then turn to the procedural and substantive provisions of the RBI. Finally, the international private law aspects of the proposal will be analyzed. Continue reading “Swiss Referendum on Implementing Supply Chain Liability”

The EU Conflict Minerals Regulation: The Uncertain Effects of Supply Chain Due Diligence

On 17 May 2017, a new regulation on supply chain due diligence was published in the European Union’s Official Journal. The regulation, known as the “EU Conflict Minerals Regulation,” imposes obligations on EU importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold (“3TG”) originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Armed groups engaged in mining operations in these regions are believed to violate human rights and to use the proceeds from the sale of conflict minerals to finance their militia. The regulation is intended to disrupt the financial flows and, thus, stop the human rights abuses. Continue reading “The EU Conflict Minerals Regulation: The Uncertain Effects of Supply Chain Due Diligence”

The Mystery of Corporate Social Responsibility In a Market Economy

A post by guest blogger Penelope Bergkamp

The topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is old, but still much debated. For a long time, the dominant view has been that corporations do not have social responsibility, but the tide appears to have changed. Recently, both governments and corporations have explicitly endorsed CSR. But how can corporations pursue the common good in a competitive market economy? Clearly, by providing employment, goods and services, and entering into various transactions, corporations advance welfare, but in what sense other than normal commercial behavior can they be “socially responsible”? Continue reading “The Mystery of Corporate Social Responsibility In a Market Economy”