Jaargang 2017, Nummer 1, 6 juli 2017
NCP Newsletter January-April 2017
This newsletter provides information regarding recent Dutch NCP activities.
New Brochure: ‘Honest business, without corruption’
In January a new brochure (Dutch only) for businesses was released about doing honest business, without corruption. Corruption is a widespread problem in international business operations. The brochure lets businesses know what they can do if they are asked for bribes abroad and how to avoid ending up in difficult situations.
Together, the Dutch government and the business community want to tackle corruption abroad. That is why the brochure is a joint publication of the Confederation of Dutch Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW), the small business association MKB-Nederland and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) of the Netherlands, together with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Security & Justice and Economic Affairs. The National Contact Point (NCP) provided input for the chapter on responsible business conduct and the government's role, with an explicit mention of the OECD Guidelines. These Guidelines are a voluntary framework to help business, deal with issues like supply chain responsibility, human rights, the environment and corruption – but this framework does entail obligations. Businesses that adhere to the OECD Guidelines become more and more transparent and less exposed to risks, with customer confidence growing as a result. In the case of corruption, Dutch law must also be taken into account; corruption is a criminal offence in the Netherlands, even if the acts of corruption take place abroad.
Letters to parliament from foreign trade and development minister, Lilianne Ploumen and state secretary for finance, Eric Wiebes:
On 10 April Ms Ploumen sent a letter to parliament about the functioning of the Dutch NCP.
To mark the fortieth anniversary of the OECD Guidelines in the summer of 2016, the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, published a report titled 'Implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises': The National Contact Points from 2000 to 2015. The report reviews the work done by the 46 NCPs worldwide and makes suggestions for improvements.
The OECD Working Party's report gave the government a good opportunity to inform parliament about the Dutch NCP's work compared to that of NCPs in other countries. By doing so, it was fulfilling the obligation laid down in the 2014 NCP Establishment Order to inform parliament on this matter every four years. The government concluded that the Dutch NCP largely meets the OECD's expectations for NCPs. Nonetheless there are issues that the NCP can address over the next few years. For instance, more attention could be paid to making small and medium-sized enterprises aware of the Guidelines, and a better job could be done of dealing with notifications within the period prescribed.
NCP meets with minister
Each year the NCP meets with the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, as laid down in the NCP Establishment Order, to discuss the previous year and the year ahead. This year's meeting, held on 31 January, was positive and the minister expressed her appreciation for the NCP's work. Topics discussed included the 2017 work plan and the assessment of the oil and gas industry which the NCP will conduct at the government's request.
Final statement Atradius Dutch State Business
At a meeting on international corporate social responsibility with the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation on 7 December 2016, Ms Ploumen agreed to inform parliament about the effects on the minister's policy of an NCP statement regarding the involvement of Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) in issuing export credit insurance for two dredging projects in Suape, Brazil. In response to the questions asked, Mr Wiebes and Ms Ploumen sent a letter to parliament (with this appendix).
Referring to OECD Guidelines in collective labour agreements
In a meeting with the Labour Foundation, the NCP encouraged the use of the OECD Guidelines as a framework for sustainable enterprise in collective labour agreements. Collective labour agreements sometimes include a section on sustainability. The NCP suggested the parties to the agreements, also mention the Guidelines. Since this meeting, the Guidelines have been placed on the Labour Foundation website. The meeting was in line with the NCP's mandate to make the OECD Guidelines more widely known.
More businesses endorse OECD Guidelines
In October 2016 the NCP wrote a letter to all businesses which, according to earlier research by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), had not yet publicly endorsed the OECD Guidelines. In January 2017 these businesses also received a letter from foreign trade minister Lilianne Ploumen. In response -by June 2017- 20 additional companies indicated that they will publicly endorse or have already publicly endorsed the Guidelines in their 2015 or 2016 annual report. The NCP will also engage in dialogue with businesses that are still hesitant about publicly endorsing the Guidelines. Businesses sometimes have questions about matters like the impact of endorsement on internal operational management or their own level of influence on their suppliers. Several meetings with businesses have already been held this year.
The NCP emphasises the fact that even businesses that have not publicly endorsed the Guidelines are still obliged to comply with them.
OECD and FAO pilot project for agriculture companies
The OECD also develops corporate social responsibility guidelines for specific sectors. In 2016, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it issued the Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. In the second half of 2017 the OECD will launch a pilot project for the promotion and practical implementation of the guidance. Up to 30 businesses (agricultural businesses, food producers, investors in agriculture and importers) can participate. The aim of the pilot is to learn from the guidance and apply it in a company's daily practice. The guidance is being translated into all EU languages.
International RBC agreements and the role of the NCP
Many business sectors are in the process of drawing up voluntary agreements between businesses, civil society organisations and government bodies on international corporate social responsibility. This includes laying down procedures for the resolution of disputes between these parties concerning their undertakings in the agreements and for access to redress for those affected. The NCP has drawn up Q&As to answer the questions that often arise about its role and tasks in relation to these voluntary agreements. The insurance sector is one industry that is working on a voluntary agreement. At a meeting with the Dutch Association of Insurers on 28 February, the NCP further clarified its tasks and explained how its work relates to voluntary agreements. The NCP pointed out that complaints about Dutch insurers can already be lodged, even without a voluntary agreement in place. It has also given confidential advice about the draft agreement.
Focus on NCP at conference on human rights and international business
On 19 April an international conference on international business and human rights was held at Randstad, in cooperation with VNO/NCW and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE). Ms Ploumen attended the event and stressed the business community's important role in defending human rights worldwide in her speech. In the afternoon there were sessions about legal and alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution and access to redress. The NCP's role was also discussed.
Workshop for South Korea on responsible business conduct
At the request of the EU and the South Korean government, the NCPs of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and France gave a presentation in Brussels about their structures, tasks and activities as part of a workshop on corporate social responsibility. The workshop was held in connection with the free trade agreement between South Korea and the EU, which also addresses sustainability. The NCPs were invited to share their experiences with South Korean officials, who would like to develop their own NCP further.
More visitors to NCP website
The NCP website was launched in January 2015. In 2016 there was a clear increase in the number of times the Dutch and English websites were consulted:
Visitors 18,330 21,271
Page views 31,117 46,078
Downloads 1,966 5,377
Specific Instances at the Dutch NCP
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