Multinational Enterprises and Human Rights

Multinational Enterprises and Human Rights

Obligations under EU Law and International Law

Alexandra Gatto

This well-researched book examines how the European Union could do more to ensure that EU-based multinational enterprises (MNEs) respect human rights when operating in third world countries. Alexandra Gatto identifies the primary obligations of MNEs as developed by international law, and investigates how the EU has promoted the respect of human rights obligations by the MNEs to date.

Chapter 5: Internal Measures Addressed to MNEs

Alexandra Gatto

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, law - academic, european law, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


5.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter examines to what extent the EU has integrated concerns in respect of human rights obligations by MNEs into its internal policies. For a matter of simplification, these measures are defined here as ‘internal’, which refers more to the internal character of the EC policies examined rather than to the effect of these measures. As said at the outset of this book, when it comes to measures addressed to MNEs, the internal/external divide appears evanescent. Although adopted in the context of one of the internal policies of the EC, these measures are able to affect the behaviour of European-based MNEs operating outside of the EU’s borders. As discussed above, the EC has a power, and is indeed under an obligation, to comply with human rights in the fields of its competence. It has also been argued that the EC is endowed with stringent powers over the regulation of companies based in one of its Member States. Thus, the question arises to what extent human rights concerns have been integrated into EC policies which are strictly related to the conduct of MNEs, such as company law, competition law and public procurement. As we will see, the extent of this integration and the possibility offered by the Treaties vary greatly. While competition and company law so far have not been seen as the appropriate policy areas to address compliance with human rights, some potential has been individuated in social policy and in the introduction of social clauses into EC...

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