The Optical Radiation Directive has hit a slight and very temporary snag. The European Parliament (est. cost over £1 million per year per member) has had a furious discussion about an amendment to it, as it is not allowed to have a proper debate about any directive as a whole, and decided to go easy. Well, relatively easy.
The esteemed body voted that while exposure to artificial radiation has to be regulated by the EU (most of us thought that there were already various rules in place but let that pass),
“... it should be up to national governments of the 25-nation European Union to decide whether companies should be held responsible for their employees' neglecting to use suncream or wear sunglasses”.
That, of course, is not much use to us and our companies as the British government will, undoubtedly, add a layer of Factor 25 suncream to the directive (or demand this nice little line in workers' apparel). In any case, the decision will now go to conciliation and as both the Council of Ministers and the Commission view such laxity disapprovingly, the MEPs will probably outvoted, as usual.
What I find so interesting is the immediate reaction from various MEPs. We find the usual “victory for common sense” rubbish, this time from the Lib-Dim Liz Lynne. The idea of the directive is hardly commonsensical but then a European Parliament has little to do with any kind of sense.
Then you get the attack from the Left, led this time by the Greens, no doubt demonstrating their eurosceptic credentials.
““Skin cancer is the same regardless of whether you catch it from aritificial or natural radiation,” said Jean Lambert, British Green party coordinator of the employment committee.
“People have called for 'light touch' legislation in the EU, and to a great extent we agree -- laws should be proportionate. But the touch cannot be so light that it fails to protect Europe's workers,” she added.”
And, of course, workers who are exposed to the sun are much too stupid to do anything about it. It has never ceased to amaze me how contemptuous of workers or, indeed, ordinary people the average left-wing politician is.
What a good thing we have the old East European apparatchiks to tell us what government is all about:
“"It is the role of the commission to ensure the highest protection of workers," said Vladimir Spidla, EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and equal opportunities.”
No doubt Mr Spidla got a little confused, what with that rather interesting title for his commissariat and imagined he was back in the good old socialist camp.