Letter: Concern about Maastricht's Social Chapter

Share
Related Topics
Sir: Andrew Marr may display an impeccable grasp of the politics of Maastricht ratification, but his appreciation of the implications of the Social Chapter is more open to question ('The 'get Major' game is for real', 2 April). I am not sure who the experts are who believe that the Maastricht Social Protocol will allow nothing that cannot already be done under the existing treaty, but I can assure him that those who speak for employers - in the EC as a whole, not just in the UK - take a very different view.

The inter-governmental Agreement of the Eleven, under the Social Protocol, gives the governments' own 'Community' considerably increased competence to act in areas such as, say, working conditions or employee participation arrangements. Further, on these and similar matters, qualified-

majority voting in the Council of Ministers replaces the previous requirement for unanimity.

With the Social Chapter ratified, therefore, there will in fact be a much greater likelihood that companies will find themselves confronted with unlooked-for regulation right across the labour and social affairs field. This would add to costs, destroying jobs, while doing little or nothing to improve working conditions or to encourage better employee relations. Little or nothing because, with the obvious exception of subjects such as genuine health and safety matters, the EC's Social Charter and Social Action Programme have always seemed to have more to do with politics than with real workplace needs.

The opt-out at Maastricht means that the UK employer is, in the first instance, protected from these new threats - at least as far as his domestic activities are concerned. None the less, he awoke the day after Maastricht with mixed feelings akin to those of the explorer who wakes up and discovers that during the night the lions have taken all of his companions.

Relief that he has survived, of course, but concern for the rest of his party with whom he shares considerable inter-dependence. And something of a worry that the lions may come back.

Politicians must address these worries, domestically by continuing to keep the social engineers at bay and by supporting the opt-out, and - more positively - at a community level by encouraging a fundamental review of 'Social Europe' to ensure that where there is a case for legislation - as indeed there will be, from time to time - the resulting proposals sit comfortably with the competitive needs of EC business. There are some welcome signs that such a review is in prospect.

Yours faithfully,

R. H. PRICE

Deputy Director-General

Confederation of

British Industry

London, WC1

2 April

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum