Social taxonomy – Challenges and opportunities

EESC opinion: Social taxonomy – Challenges and opportunities

Press release 

The EU needs to put the spotlight on social sustainability.

Articles by the rapporteur

Key points


  • calls on the Commission to publish the overdue report describing the provisions that would be required to extend the EU sustainability taxonomy's scope to "other sustainability objectives, such as social objectives", as requested in the Taxonomy Regulation;
  • speaks up for an operationally viable and conceptually sound social taxonomy, to make the opportunities come true, while also mastering challenges. The EU taxonomy should be aligned with a holistic approach including environmental as well as social sustainability;
  • finds that the Regulation's minimum safeguards are welcome, but they are not enough to ensure social sustainability for workers, consumers and communities;
  • finds that financing of social welfare by government spending remain fundamental. Still, a social taxonomy could provide guidelines for investments with positive social impacts;
  • recommends integrating a social taxonomy into the sustainable finance framework and referring  in particular to the planned Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD);
  • is convinced that a well designed social taxonomy would contribute to tackling ´social washing´;
  • recommends starting with simple and clear guidelines, providing for easy and transparent procedures and complementing them step by step;
  • finds that the EU taxonomy should constitute a gold standard reflecting a higher level of ambition than provided for in legislation;
  • welcomes the Platform's suggested objectives of decent work, adequate living standards and inclusive and sustainable communities;
  • recommends referring to the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals. Compliance with human and workers' rights also must be a condition;
  • finds that adherence to collective agreements and co-determination mechanisms in accordance with the respective national and European law should constitute a DNSH principle;
  • urges legislators to fully involve the social partners and civil society organisations when designing the social taxonomy;
  • is convinced that the success of the taxonomy is linked to its credibility, and the activities included must meet a widely accepted definition of sustainability;
  • wishes to highlight further benefits related to a social taxonomy:
  1. the rising demand for socially orientated investment should be supported by providing a reliable taxonomy which constitutes a coherent concept for measuring social sustainability;
  2. a taxonomy could help to minimise risks due to socially harmful activities;
  3. transparency is crucial for capital market efficiency, and could also contribute to the social internal market as set out in Article 3 TFEU;
  4. the EU should build on its strengths and strive to become a model and front runner of environmental and also social sustainability;
  • also highlights challenges and possible solutions:
  1. not being taxonomy conformant must not be deemed to be harmful;
  2. the definition of what should be included in the taxonomy will be controversial. But this is exactly the cause, why the definition should be subject to democratic decision making;
  3. a social taxonomy could lead to additional reporting requirements, which can be minimized by referring to related legislations as for example the CSRD.