The EU, the Habeck Ministry and the colonial order

The EU, the Habeck Ministry and the colonial order

Well-intentioned, as the saying goes, is the opposite of well-done. An ideal example of this is called the supply chain law; The federal government should now ensure that it is not decided the way the EU imagines.

The EU, the Habeck Ministry and the colonial order

It is reported in the press that several business associations tried to get the Habeck Ministry to intervene. However, it is not that easy to understand what it is about, because you first have to dig through a thicket of stated intentions to get to the real core.

At first glance, this supply chain law is intended entirely for good. Companies should be obliged to document where their raw materials come from along their supply chain – down to the last screw or grain of salt – and to ensure that no human rights are violated during production, wherever it takes place become. For example, no children worked on it or – yes, that’s what it says too – trade union rights are respected.

“These include in particular the bans on child labor, slavery and forced labor, the disregard for occupational health and safety, the withholding of an appropriate wage, the disregard for the right to form trade unions or employee representatives, the denial of access to food and water and the unlawful Deprivation of land and livelihoods.”

A website operated by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs describes the requirements of the Supply Chain Act.

That’s all well and good, even if you quickly ask yourself how companies are supposed to know all this given the ever-increasing number of global supply chains. In any case, the German business associations want something called the “Safe Haven” rule. In practice, this means that certificates are issued that a supplier is considered safe, which exempts the company that accepts its goods from liability unless it can be proven that it was negligent.

The whole supply chain idea is actually the result of a defeat. In this case, the defeat of any solidarity that once existed with the peoples of developing countries; the idea that the problem of colonial conditions could be dealt with through laws in the countries that create these conditions, because the entire bundle of power consisting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US Army was simply too strong for many years. Never mind, they thought, let’s use the power of consumers. This led to things like fair trade products and ultimately this supply chain law.

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It’s just that it’s a completely different story when the EU passes something like that. On the one hand, because it always creates enormous bureaucracy. All companies with more than a thousand employees should be required to maintain this documentation from January 1, 2024. This means that for somewhat more complicated products that may have crossed several borders, dedicated staff are required who do not deal with anything else. According to EU requirements, of course, in the form of complicated, multilingual forms. First of all, this means that every company that can do this and that is not too big will simply try to purchase as few preliminary products as possible that can even invoke this documentation requirement. Not to forget, the EU also wants to introduce a CO₂ tax soon, which will take the whole thing up a notch.

In global trade, it is simply not possible to know for every conceivable product what the conditions under which it was produced are. What about trade union rights in Malawi? According to EU ideas, is it a “denial of access to water” if a company like Nestlé buys up water sources? Are you still allowed to use products from this company according to the Supply Chain Act?

It should come as no surprise that the question of liability is the sticking point for business associations. In theory, any company along the entire supply chain can be sued for the human rights violations listed above. This is very uncontrollable. And even worse – who would sue in an emergency? Only international human rights organizations or warning associations like Deutsche Umwelthilfe can do this. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that such organizations often pursue completely different, geopolitical goals that have little to do with their supposed mission.

Such lawsuits may be filed simply because there is money to be made. Or they can serve more sinister purposes. Just think of the “forced labor of the Uyghurs,” which is passionately claimed in the West but has not been proven. In this context, there have been a number of incidents in which companies have been pilloried for sourcing cotton from the Chinese province of Xinjiang, although the source for this entire story is solely a dubious evangelical cult preacher.

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Who is an acceptable source of information about what conditions are like in a particular country? The Foreign Office? This is what Ukraine considers a democracy. The human rights organizations? Which? The unions? Which ones, the ones here or those in the countries in question?

If one thing is certain when you look at the best-known human rights organizations in the West, it is that their conceivable lawsuits will follow the exact dictates of US power politics. However, the effect that this regulation would have on the conditions in the producing countries would be the exact opposite of the supposedly intended improvements – a kind of shadow sanctions machine would be created that could be managed by appropriate large donations and ultimately economically weaken precisely those states that stand in the way of US interests.

The certification option that German companies are pushing for would be a way to at least limit the resulting risk. As long as you have such a certificate, you are on the safe side, no matter what political developments throw up. From a business perspective, it makes sense. Only the House of Habeck has no problem at all with handing over German industry to the will of the United States.

This entire legal construct is made particularly absurd by the developments that are currently happening globally. Because the best recipe for all the grievances that the supply chain law is supposedly aimed at is real sovereignty. Then the people in the countries concerned can take care of improving their living conditions themselves and are no longer thrown back into poverty and dependency by structures like the IMF.

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And for decades the chances for real sovereignty have not been great. You can see it in Africa, in Latin America – the first, indispensable step is liberation from the current hegemon and all its power structures. It is strange to see an idea that was originally intended to at least partially compensate for unattainable sovereignty now as a tool in the hands of a structure like the EU that is entirely focused on saving the colonial order. By all means. Also with this supply chain law.

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