Obligations under EU Law and International Law
Chapter 4: Multinational Enterprises in the Present European Union System and the Emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility
4.1 INTRODUCTION Having examined how international law has so far addressed the issue of MNEs’ responsibility for human rights, Part II brings the issue of the responsibility of MNEs for human rights into the EU context. This chapter addresses some fundamental but preliminary questions which will serve for the analysis of EU measures, both those addressed directly to MNEs, which are the object of Part II, and of EU measures addressed to the host States of MNEs, which will be dealt with in Part III. In setting the scene, the first step is the recognition that there is a problem of a lack of MNEs responsibility for human rights violations in the EU. By focusing on the status of MNEs within the EU and the growing relevance of human rights within the EU, both at the internal and external level, a paradoxical gap of accountability becomes apparent. The capability of the EU to enact rules directly applicable to companies and its reaffirmed commitment to human rights, both at the internal and the external level, have not been matched by consistent political and legal action to increase the accountability of MNEs. Secondly, the powers of the EU to take measures which would increase the responsibility of MNEs for human rights will be examined. Two aspects of this issue will be distinguished. On the one hand, since the EC is an organization with limited competence, it is necessary to verify the powers conferred upon it in respect of those which are retained...
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