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“Europe, China and workers’ rights”

GRANDSTAND. The European Union must step up its game in its trade relations with China. And thus assert itself as a real power.





By Bernard Carayon*

The European Union would gain from asserting itself more vis-à-vis China in its trade relations.
© DURSUN AYDEMIR / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP

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L’European Union was able to measure its impotence and its naivety during the financial and health crises which paralyzed it, as well as the energy and diplomatic upheavals which fractured it.

Each time, to respond to the emergency, it has had to violate its texts, its dogmas, its reflexes: bank rescue plans prepared by the States themselves, while direct, public and national aid to businesses is prohibited by the treaties ; joint order of vaccines and financing of arms purchases from Ukraine, without having the legal skills. Let’s move on to the grand bazaar in which all this was improvised.

READ ALSOWhen China wakes upThe European Union was built on liberal principles erected into theology, in which it believes, but alone: ​​opening of markets without the requirement of reciprocity; limitation of deficits, condemnation of any industrial policy by sector, taboos of the notion of “national champion” as of “economic patriotism”, without consideration of what its competitors are doing, as well as of our security and environmental requirements; ignorance, to the very idea, of the tragedy of our economic dependencies in strategic sectors. It makes Europeans pay for its negligence in inflation and the expensive race for energy suppliers the least respectful of its principles, after, moreover, having vanished into competing interests.

Unequal weapons

Lacking lucidity and intellectual independence, it is now time for it to gain courage in its commercial relations with China.

The “factory of the world”, for example, has not ratified two conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on freedom of association and the protection of the right to organise, the right to organize and collective bargaining. However, the ILO places these at the top of the “fundamental conventions”. It is thus impossible, under a communist regime, to create real unions, while Chinese companies have unrestricted access to European public markets.

According to the Brussels vulgate: where is the ” level playing field (level playing field)? It’s good to be the champions of the rights of European workers, it would be better not to subject them to competition without rights! We will observe, in passing, the shared silence of European liberals as well as French “revolutionary” parties and unions, which subsist thanks to other causes… It is obviously legitimate for the European Union to reserve, at the very least, our public contracts to the countries that have ratified these “fundamental conventions”, especially since these rules are not only derived from European principles, but from the standards enacted by the UN, including the ILO, which brings together 187 States.

Confront a power

The World Trade Organization (WTO), itself, points out that “there is a lot of legal advice that its own agreements and the ILO’s labor standards cannot be considered separately, since countries must respect the all of their international obligations.

Skeptics will argue that Germany will oppose this initiative: in the name of what? Volkswagen and Siemens interests? Others will think that China will ratify them without implementing them. This was the calculation of the Soviet hierarchs when they signed the Helsinki agreements, quickly invoked by their historical victims, with a certain success…

READ ALSOAlice Ekman: “The Chinese Regime Feels Threatened” Would Europe be too liberal to confront what it is not, that is to say a power? But reciprocity is the twin of courtesy and equal rights in international trade!

So, chick?

*Bernard Carayon is a former deputy (LR) for Tarn, mayor of Lavaur, and lawyer at the Paris bar.


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