Indicator Assessment

Number of companies signing the UN Global Compact (27.4)

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-338-en
Published 13 Apr 2012 Last modified 11 May 2021
7 min read

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This page was archived on 09 Feb 2021 with reason: Other (Discontinued indicator)

The total number of companies within EEA-32 member states having signed the UN Global Compact has increased year on year since 2000 and now exceeds 3000 companies, with an accelerate uptake in recent years. This may indicate that private companies are increasingly engaged in corporate social responsibility, though without an external verification element it is not known whether the increased participation is accompanied by an increasing implementation of CSR.

Number of companies signing the UN Global Compact

Note: Times series of the number of companies in EEA countries which have signed the UN Global Compact and the accumulated number of those companies throughout the same time period

The total number of companies within EEA-32 member countries having signed the UN Global Compact has increased from 29 in 2000 to more than 3000 companies in 2011.

There has been a significant increase in the number of annual signatories from 2008 onward, with 876 signing in 2011 alone and just under half of the total number of signatories coming in 2010 and 2011. This is a positive trend and indicates that CSR is becoming more widespread in companies in the EEA member countries.

In 2007, there was a total of 20.9 million enterprises operating in the EU-27 alone, of which 43,800 (0.2%) were large enterprises (having 250 or more employees). This means that there is still great potential for further growth in the number of companies signing the UN Global Compact.

It is also important to note that the Global Compact has no external verification element. As such signing up to the Global Compact is only a sign of intent not application. Whether or not an increase in registrations has lead to any increased implementation of CSR principles cannot be determined. 

Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator shows the number of companies signing the UN Global Compact in each year together with the cumulative total of UN Global Compact signatories.   


This indicator is expressed as the absolute number of companies.


Policy context and targets

Context description

The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995 and was originally restricted to the industrial sectors. Since 2001 EMAS has been open to all economic sectors including public and private services. In 2009 the EMAS Regulation has been revised and modified for the second time (REG. 1221/2009/EC). The revision has improved the scheme’s applicability and credibility and strengthened its visibility and outreach.

As a part of the Lisbon Agenda, the Commission issued a 2001 Green Paper (COM(2001)366 final) and a 2002 Communication (COM(2002)347  final) on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The objective of the Green paper was to launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote CSR on a European and international level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe. The Commission defined CSR as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis". A Community strategy was shaped in order to promote CSR, which included the following actions: spreading information on the benefits of CSR for business and States; increasing the exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States; developing CSR management skills; encouraging SMEs to adopt CSR strategies; step up transparency for CSR practices and tools; etc.

In October 2002, the Commission launched the EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR. The CSR Forum brought together representatives of business, trade unions and civil society, with the Commission in a facilitating role. The Forum confirmed the Commission definition of CSR while further exploring its scope and boundaries. The Forum also reached consensus on the need for further awareness-raising and competency-building activities. There was no consensus, however, on topics such as company reporting requirements or the need for European standards on CSR.

A second communication on CSR was published on 22 March 2006 (COM(2006)136 final). As part of the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy and the Sustainable Development Strategy, it traces the development of CSR in EU and sends a message to businesses to play a part in the partnership for growth and jobs. It gives its political support to the creation of a European Alliance on CSR. It also sets priorities with regard to CSR and announces a series of measures to achieve them, including cooperation with Member States, support for multi-stakeholder initiatives, research, SMEs and global action.

The European Parliament voted on a resolution (European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2007 on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership [2006/2133(INI)]) in which it urges the EU executive to extend legal obligations to some key aspects of corporate accountability. In particular, the Commission was required to focus on some aspects such as awareness-raising and best practice exchange, consumer information and transparency, education, etc.

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The three environment-related principles (7-9) states that business should: support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility and encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. With over 8.700 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 130 countries, it is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world.

In the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe COM (2011) 571, part of the milestone underboosting efficient productionreads “All companies, and their investors, can measure and benchmark their lifecycle resource efficiency”. 


No policy targets or objectives have been identified for this indicator.

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified



Methodology for indicator calculation

The numbers of the companies that have signed the UN Global Compact are extracted from the database by searching the “Participants” in all the 32 EEA countries in the business sector.  For the accumulated figures, the number of companies found each year is added to the sum of companies of the preceding years.

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling was necessary for producing this indicator.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been identified in the methodology used by the EEA to process the source data.

Data sets uncertainty

There is no uncertainty for either data set; both data sets draw on actual registrations of companies.

Rationale uncertainty

To answer the question more fully it would also be useful to follow trends in thedegreeto which companies are engaging in CSR. This could be assessed through indicators on the European market share of companies signing the Global Compact. Data for such an indicator is not yet available. Finally, implementation of the Global Compact is not externally audited. Therefore the indicator is only a sign of intent not application.

Data sources

  • No datasets have been specified.

Other info

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SCP 034
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



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