Letter from Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to the Guardian
What a pity that Arlene McCarthy did not stop to consider the facts before launching into her wild accusations against the Greens over our vote against the common code on takeovers (MEPs' failed takeover bid, Letters, July 6).(See below)
As Greens, we did not vote against this draft directive because we were somehow "manipulated by the power of the German industrialist lobby and duped by the opportunistic campaign by the German government", as McCarthy somewhat ludicrously claims. We believe that a company is not just about shareholders, but about stakeholders, including employees, as well as consumers and environmental organisations. We therefore voted against this draft directive, since it would have significantly reduced workers rights in a number of member states to be informed and consulted about hostile bids. The European TUC was among those supporting us in this position.
As for the role of shareholders, there is a wider debate to be had about their role in decision-making: is their task to maximise short-term profit or to nurture a company's development? The EU should also examine its own economic priorities to see how it contributes to a global economic climate which precisely encourages take-over bids from which its own companies might need protection.
Caroline Lucas MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
UK Greens in the European Parliament
Letter: MEPs failed takeover bid
The Guardian - United Kingdom; Jul 6, 2001
BY ARLENE MCCARTHY MEP
You report (Tied vote scuppers European single financial market, July 5) that the European parliament rejected a common code on takeovers after a tied vote. But it would be a gross misrepresentation to report only the view of those MEPs who voted against the code. The full facts are that the parliament's negotiation team improved the legislation to include new rights of inform-ation for employees during a merger or takeover. This would have been progress for workers in the UK, who all too often suffer the consequences of restructuring but have no role in the process.
But in the final vote, social policy progress was not an issue. Members were subject to a sustained, distorted campaign of misinformation by powerful German interests, both inside and outside the European parliament. As Suddeutsche Zeitung reports, Volkswagen intervened with the German chancellor to prevent this legislation being approved. How ironic that the Green group in the parliament, quoted in your article, who played no role in the drafting or negotiating of this legislation, should be manipulated by the power of the German industrialist lobby and duped by the opportunist campaign by the German government, to use the European parliament as a backdoor veto on legislation.
Let's hope they and other non-voters can spot when they are being taken for a ride. As the German newspaper editorial said, these are "bad days for Europe" and for the European parliament's law-making credibility.
Arlene McCarthy MEP
Labour spokesperson on the legal affairs committee
I write in response to your editorial concerning the European Parliament and the question of national interest.
If only German MEPs had voted against the Lehne report on Takeover Bids, this initiative would have sailed through Parliament. As it was, the House was equally divided so it is clear that there was deep disagreement between members. Mr. Lehne himself did not support the final outcome of the conciliation process with member state governments, and he, as Parliament's Rapporteur, had been the person most deeply involved in these negotiations.
I agree that all stakeholders should be informed and consulted in the event of a takeover bid, hostile or otherwise.
Yet I voted against the Report, partly because it reduced the rights of workers in certain Member States to be informed and consulted about hostile bids. I do not believe that we should be extending the rights of some workers, even in my own country, at the expense of employees elsewhere. I was not alone in taking this view, so it cannot be said that Members only voted out of a narrow, national interest.
As for the role of shareholders, there is a wider debate to be had about their role in decision-making and there are cultural differences between countries on this: is their task to maximise short-term profit or to nurture a company's development? The European Union also needs to examine its own economic priorities to see how it contributes to a global climate which encourages takeover bids from which its companies might need protection.
Green MEP for London