OrganiSation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a unique international organization that brings together member states and many partners to cooperate in solving critical global issues on national, regional, and local levels. The organisation works to build better policies for better lives. Together with governments, stakeholders and citizens, the OECD works to establish evidence-based international standards and find solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges. Another main priority of the OECD is building stronger economies of member countries, improving efficiency, promoting the market economic system, expanding free trade, as well as supporting the development of all countries. The organization provides an environment where governments can exchange practices, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and work to coordinate domestic and international policies

OECD GUIDELINES FOR MULTINACIONAL ENTERPRISES

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from countries that have agreed to adhere to them. They aim to encourage positive contribution that enterprises can make to economic, environmental and social progress and to minimize adverse impacts on matters covered by the Guidelines. They are the only multilaterally agreed and comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promote by complying with a specific type of behavior in accordance with a Decision adopted by the OECD Council. The guidelines cover all key areas of responsible business conduct, including:

  • Human rights;
  • Labor rights;
  • Environment;
  • Bribery and corruption;
  • Consumer interest;
  • Science, technology and innovation;
  • Disclosure
  • Competition;
  • Taxation.

In 2023 the Guidelines were updated based on the 2011 edition. The 2023 edition of the Guidelines provides updated recommendations for responsible business conduct in key areas such as climate change, biodiversity, technology, business integrity and supply chain due diligence, as well as updated implementation procedures for National Contact Point for Responsible business conduct.

BULGARIAN NATIONAL CONTACT POINT FOR responsible business conduct

The National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct (NCP) are structures established by governments whose main responsibilities are to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct and the related Due Diligence Guidance and to deal with a cases of non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines (specific cases) as a non-judicial grievance mechanism.

Over time, National Contact Points establish themselves as an increasingly important tool for the implementation and promotion of policies related to responsible business conduct, and to date 51 countries have this non-judicial mechanism in place. This is achieved through the introduction and implementation of national action plans for business and in the protection of human rights, as well as through the performance of its activity of providing answers to inquiries on various regulatory developments. All 51 governments that adhere to the OECD Guidelines have a legal obligation to establish a national contact point. Today, NCPs constitute a network and community of practitioners who address a wide range of impacts involving companies, through their operations or their supply chains.

 

National contact points for responsible business conduct are agencies set up by governments with specific objectives, which are:

  • to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and related guidelines for due diligence;
  • support businesses and their stakeholders to take appropriate measures to encourage compliance with the Guidelines;
  • to handle cases (called “specific cases”) as an out-of-court complaint mechanism;
  • to pass voluntary peer reviews that identify their strengths and areas for improvement.

The main objective of the NCP is to promote voluntary compliance with the OECD Guidelines and to conduct its activities in compliance with the key principles of visibility, accessibility, transparency and accountability.

In addition, NCPs should handle specific cases in a manner that is impartial, predictable, fair and consistent with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct.

 The effectiveness of the NCP is achieved through a number of actions, which include promotional activities, handling specific cases and contributing to the resolution of problems that may arise from non-compliance with the guidelines in specific cases. All 51 governments that adhere to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have a legal obligation to establish NCPs to support the effectiveness of the Guidelines. Over time, the role and scope of the NCP has evolved:

1984 NCPs are primarily responsible for promoting the OECD Guidelines as well as responding to enquiries;

2000 NCPs assume the role of promoting solutions to problems arising from companies’ implementation of the OECD Guidelines;

  • to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and related guidelines for due diligence;
  • support businesses and their stakeholders to take appropriate measures to encourage compliance with the Guidelines;
  • to handle cases (called “specific instances”) as a non-judicial grievance mechanism;
  • to pass voluntary peer reviews that identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Encourages voluntary compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for Responsible Business Conduct;
  • Handling cases of non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for Responsible Business Conduct;
  • NCP considers the submitted inquiries by the Guidelines by accepting for consideration or refusing the submitted cases by the stakeholders within a reasonable time;
  • In case of acceptance for consideration of the submitted case for non-observance or received an inquiry, NCP sends it to the Working Group (WG) for further review and subsequent resolution;
  • NCP assists in the voluntary resolution of cases, concerning the rights of stakeholders under the implementation of the Guidelines, through mediation and concerning the considerations of the WG;
  • Encourages dialogue and finding mutually acceptable solutions for the affected parties concerned while respecting the standards of impartiality, predictability, fairness, and compatibility of the Guidelines and these rules;
  • Responds to inquiries from other NCPs, stakeholders, and national governments on the correct application of the Guidelines and, at its discretion, sends questions for consideration by the WG;
  • Maintains contact and consults with other NCPs of countries that are members and non-members of the OECD, and the information, practice and experience obtained are made public on the websites of the line ministry and BSMEPA and on the present website of the NCP. This function is led and implemented by the Head of the NCP and supported by the NCP Secretariat.

The National Contact Point (NCP) of Bulgaria was established by Decision No. 682/17.09.2021, as a permanent mechanism for implementing the Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct of Multinational Enterprises in Bulgaria. Each country has the flexibility to structure its NCP as long as it functions in accordance with the basic criteria established by the OECD.

The structure of NCP – Bulgaria includes the following bodies:

  1. Head of NCP – Bulgaria
  • With Decision № 682/17.09.2021, p. 1, amended and supplemented with Decision № 479/ 14.07.2022, the executive director of the Bulgarian SMEs Promotion Agency who is under the Minister of Innovation and Growth has been designated as the head of the NCP – Bulgaria.
  1. NCP Secretariat
  • Provides the expert provision of the NCP, administrative and technical support and coordination with the WG, organizes the preparation and holding of the WG meetings, ensures the timely distribution of the agenda and materials for the meetings, leads the correspondence related to the work of the WG, which is addressed to the chairman of WG and other activities.
  1. Working Group (WG)
  • Each organization participating in the WG appoints a titular member and his deputy;
  • If necessary, ad-hoc and external experts from other departments, the nationally representative organizations of employers and employees, non-governmental organizations and the academic sector could be brought into the WG;
  • The Chairman of the WG is the head of the NCP, which by right this is the executive director of the BSMEPA. In the absence of the Chairman of the WG, his functions are performed by a person expressly authorized by him, a member of the WG or a member of the NCP Secretariat designated by him;
  • WG members:
  • Ministry of Innovation and Growth;
  • Ministry of Economy and Industry;
  • Ministry of Labor and Social Policy;
  • Ministry of Environment and Water;
  • National Revenue Agency;
  • Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association;
  • Bulgarian Industrial Association;
  • Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
  • Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria;
  • Union for Private Economic Enterprise;
  • Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria;
  • Confederation of Labor “Support”;
  • Center for the Study of Democracy;
  • Bulgarian Association of Specialists in Corporate Social Responsibility (BASCSR);
  • Bulgarian Network of the UN Global Compact.
  1. National Economic Council (NEC)
    • The National Economic Council, in its capacity as a consultative body to the Council of Ministers, is defined as the supervisory body of the Bulgarian NCP and has the functions of monitoring the activity of the NCP.

PROMOTION OF RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS CONDUCT

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) sets the expectation that all enterprises – regardless of their legal status, size, ownership or sector – avoid and address the negative impacts of their operations while contributing to sustainable development in the countries in which they operate. The OECD Center for Responsible Business Conduct uses standards and recommendations of responsible business conduct to shape government policies and help businesses minimize the adverse impacts of their operations and supply chains, while providing a venue to resolve suspected abuses of corporate, social, environmental, labor or human rights. Through RBC, enterprises can make a positive contribution to economic growth and development and become a powerful engine for achieving the goals of sustainable development.

Supporting the promotion of the OECD Guidelines and Standards for Responsible Business Conduct in the context of the adopted Proactive Agenda is one of the missions entrusted by the OECD to the National Contact Points. The role of the NCP in this part is related to maintaining a constant relationship with social partners and other participants in the process of establishing and implementing responsible business behavior. This relationship aims to identify new trends and emerging practices in responsible business conduct, to support positive initiatives by enterprises with a positive contribution to economic, social and environmental progress and to initiate cooperation to identify and respond to risks from adverse impact on certain products, regions, sectors and industries.

For this purpose, specific actions within the scope of NCP have been envisaged:

  • Organizing or participating in regular meetings with other National Contact Points;
  • Providing human and financial resources for the planned activities within the scope of the NCP;
  • They are maintaining active cooperation with the other National Contact Points in case of any cases related to implementing the Guidelines.
  • Organizing of promotional activities to promote responsible business conduct;
  • Processing of inquiries submitted by multinational companies;
  • The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct are standard for responsible business conduct. The OECD Guidelines reflect governments’ expectations of enterprises on how to act responsibly. They cover all key areas of business responsibility, including human rights, labor rights, environment, disclosure and more. (see menu “OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct”);
  • National Contact Points are established by governments to promote the OECD Guidelines and to address possible cases of non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines, as a non-judicial grievance mechanism;
  • Risk-based due diligence, a key element of RBC, is a process by which enterprises identify, prevent and mitigate their actual and potential negative impacts and report how these impacts are being addressed;
  • OECD Alignment Assessments assess the alignment of industry or multiple stakeholder programs with the recommendations of the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines;
  • The OECD Recommendation on the role of government in promoting responsible business conduct includes principles and recommendations to assist policymakers and relevant stakeholders in creating and implementing policies that enable and promote responsible business conduct;

SPECIFIC INSTANCES

The Guidelines are the only international instrument supported by governments with a built-in complaint system. This complaint mechanism through the OECD National Contact Points platforms is known as the “Specific Instances”. In case of suspicion/established non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines, a natural or legal person has the possibility to file a report against an enterprise. After submitting the signal, the NCP must take action to conduct discussions and assist the parties in finding a solution or undertake a commitment to deal with the cases that have arisen. These actions must be handled impartial, predictable, and equitable, consistent with the principles and standards described in the Guidelines.

Specific instances do not have the force of legal cases, and the NCP is not a legal body.

Who can submit a complaint?

 Any person or organization with a legitimate interest in a given matter can submit a complaint (case) to the Bulgarian NCP and not only in relation to regarding a company that has not complied with the OECD Guidelines. The complaint processing process goes through three main phases: initial assessment, solution proposal and conclusion.

How to submit a request for an enterprise review/verification?

Any person or organization wishing to submit a complaint is required to complete and send the attached form to the NCP Secretariat at the email address provided.

What is the geographical scope of the NCP?

The Guidelines are addressed by acceding countries to “undertakings operating in or from their territories”, allowing NCPs to process cases involving companies based in:

in the country of the NCP and working in it;

in the country of the NCP and working in any other country;

in any other country and working in the NCP country.

Over the past 20 years, NCPs have been able to deal with cases in over 100 countries and territories, including over 50 that do not adhere to the OECD Guidelines.

How to submit a complaint with the NCP?

Submitting a complaint about alleged non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines to the National Contact Point is very easy. Many NCPs provide a form for this on their website. (see under this menu). NCPs may have different requirements regarding initial transmission. To find out more about the specific requirements of National Contact Points, be sure to visit the website of the specific NCP, depending on the territory in which your business operates.

Is there a fee for submitting a complaint?

No, as the NCP process is designed to be as accessible as possible, the NCP does not charge you for submitiing a complaint.

Are the specific cases public?

Yes, records of all cases processed by the NCP are available online in the OECD case specific database.

What actions are taken by the NCP?

  • National contact points are not courts. Participation in the process is voluntary and the NCP does not have the power to order any protective measures.
  • What NCPs will do is offer their “good offices” to the stakeholders and seek to facilitate an agreement between the submitter and the company through non-controversial methods such as mediation or conciliation. Regardless of whether an agreement is reached, the NCP can make recommendations to the company regarding the OECD Guidelines. Some National Contact Points also make explicit decisions about whether a company has complied with the Guidelines.
  • Most NCPs also follow up after the case is closed to verify that all agreements and/or recommendations have been implemented.
  • In practice, NCPs succeed in facilitating such remedies as monetary compensation, compensation in kind, changes in company policy, and others.


Is representation necessary?

  • You do not need to be represented by a lawyer when you submit a complaint with the NCP or when you participate in the specific instance process as a company;
  • However, this is not prohibited and in practice interested parties may be represented or assisted by lawyers or other organizations such as NGOs or trade unions;
  • BIAC, TUAC and OECD Watch are platforms of representative organizations that represent business, trade unions and civil society in the OECD and can provide guidance or assistance on specific cases.
  • Complainants to the NCP should not be subjected to undue pressure or adverse consequences. If you are afraid, the NCP can take measures to protect your identity in the process. Be sure to inform the NCP of your situation.

National Contact Points follow a 5-step process:

Submitting a complaint;

Coordination, if applicable (approximately 2 months);

Initial assessment (approximately 3 months);

Conclusion

– final statement (NCP makes a statement on the case and may make recommendations)

Follow-up (the NCP should follow up on the implementation of the agreement and/or recommendations made by them)

Although all NCPs follow this overall process, there are practical differences in the procedures followed by different NCPs in practice. Be sure to visit the website of the relevant NCP to familiarize yourself with their procedural rules.

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2/4 Lege St., Sofia 1000, Bulgaria

Phone
+359 (0) 2 940 7940
+ 359 (0) 2 940 7993
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to 5:30 pm

Specific Instances

Form