Sir: Your leading article on the European Social Chapter (10 February) displays the common misconception that a level playing field in social protection is necessary to achieve fair competition within the European Union. This was indeed one of the reasons put forward in support of the inclusion of Article 119 (on equal pay for men and women) in the Treaty of Rome. However, the competitiveness of a company or industry is influenced not only by cost of labour, but also by numerous other factors such as the availability of a skilled workforce.
The real reason for insisting on minimum labour standards is not an economic but an ethical one - the protection of the workforce from exploitation, to which the lack of commitment by our present government is outrageous.
European University Institute