This project supported the dissemination in 7 EU Member States (AT, BG, DE, ES, FR, HU, IT) of a digital tool helping SMEs in the sector to identify the risks of violation of social, environmental or human rights in their supply chain, and to reduce these risks.
This tool had been developed since 2013 in two successive EU-funded projects, in a joint work by European social partners to support concretely the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of SMEs in the textile and clothing sector.
This final conference highlighted the general interest of social partners in improving the social, environmental and human-rights related conditions of work along the very long and complex global value chains in the textile and clothing sector. It also illustrated the difficulties in convincing SMEs in the sector, which are subject to strong pressure by their final customers, to engage actively in a CSR effort – despite the increasing reputational costs that violations of social, environmental or human rights among their suppliers entail.
Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, praised the efforts of all project partners in bringing this innovative and very comprehensive tool to a broad range of SMEs in the textile and clothing sector. He however also regretted that CSR seems to be low on the priority list of large companies in the sector – and thus also of their suppliers, the European SMEs.
"The only country where social, environmental and human rights in the value chain are starting to be considered seriously is France, where the law mandates a duty of vigilance of multinationals. This raises the question of extending this duty of vigilance to the whole European Union", concluded Luc Triangle in an appeal to the recently elected European Parliament and to the upcoming Commission.