On April 5th a large meeting (70 people) was organized by DG Growth with the aim to discuss how and if the European market would benefit from the development of social standards. The director, Gwenole Cozigou, made it clear that the commission would like to enable a level playing field.
Companies that benefit from underpaying workers, or even use forced labor should not be able to compete with companies, that manage the social impacts well and pay adequately. Although, this was not mentioned directly there is much analogy in the thinking that led to the development of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).
During the meeting a series of interesting case studies were presented. There was much interest in the experiences of the Product Social Metrics Roundtable, the SEEbalance® methodology from BASF and the presentation of the work of the Social LC Alliance.
The commission is contemplating to request the development of a European CEN standard. There will be a number of smaller follow up meetings with various experts, and we will of course stay engaged.