Well thats not the way they see it, but that will be the end result of what they are trying to do.
MEPs are calling on the European Commission to push EU businesses to take the economic, social and environmental impacts of their activities more into consideration wherever they operate in the world.What they are aiming for is to create legislation that controls the way that European Multinationals behave in developing countries. At the moment the talk is of voluntary codes, but nothing short of punitive legislation will be enough for people like this.
Economic actors, especially trans-national companies, have a huge role to play in protecting, promoting and respecting human, social and environmental rights. Sometimes more powerful than national governments, they are rarely held to account for the abuses they commit in damaging the environment, harming local communities and forcing workers to accept unfair conditions and/or salaries.The problem is that it is complete bollocks. Of course some trans national corporations behave badly, but the overall reality is that they benefit the countries that they invest in. They have higher standards of behaviour.
A Book by Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, spells this out in full.
He cites a study of 20,000 plants in Indonesia showing that the average wage paid to workers in foreign-owned plants in 1996 was 50 percent higher than in private domestic plants. Even after controlling for education levels, plant size, and other relevant variables, wages paid by multinational companies were 12 percent higher for blue-collar workers and 27 percent higher for white-collar workers.This certainly fits in with my (limited) experience. Workers in developing countries would rather work for foreign companies than home grown ones.
But reality is never allowed to intrude on the making of European legislation, and has probably never intruded on the life of the Muppet behind this cause. Not today, nor next week, maybe not next year. However, it will happen, European Companies will be forced to apply rich world standards to poor countries. This will make overseas investments by European companies a riskier business.
With such legislation, the EU would achieve a number of things.
- Less attractive employment for workers in the developing world
- Less know how transfer, essential for development
- Less competitive European Companies
- Poorer environmental standards in developing countries
- More power for the Eurocrats of Brussels.