Hurd rejects rights code for workers

BRUSSELS - Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday rejected suggestions that the way to protect European industry from Asian competition was by a mutual code of workers' rights, writes Sarah Lambert.

He was responding to remarks made by Jacques Delors, the EC president, at yesterday's meeting of EC foreign ministers. Mr Delors reiterated his concern that unless the world's trading nations could be persuaded to agree a global standard of employment protection, European industries risked being undercut by their far-Eastern competitors.

His concern mirrors the recent European debate on 'social dumping'. Mr Delors, France and many of the Community's poorer members have argued that to use competitive devaluation as an instrument to attract investment runs against the spirit of the single market.

Mr Hurd said Britain was as worried as everyone else about the pressure of Asian competition. But he warned: 'Europe must be very aware of the consequences of imposing extra burdens on industry. We in Britain have no intention of doing it at all.'