With corporations operating across borders, and attempting to drive down wages and environmental protections in the process, it is clear that we need international cooperation to curtail their power. It is only possible to stand up to corporations at a trans-national level where they operate. So if we did not have the EU we would have to invent a body like it to resist corporate power.
The EU single market only works if companies can compete fairly. It is the job of Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to make sure that companies do not operate as monopolies, keeping other companies out of the market, do not make unfair profits, and do not receive an unfair level of support from their national governments. She has shown that she takes this role very seriously. She has launched a range of investigations into corporations including Apple, Google, McDonalds, Facebook, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Fiat and Starbucks. These have resulted in significant fines: Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. fined $150 million for fixing the prices of alternators and starters sold to car manufacturers in January 2016, while Fiat and Starbucks are both required to pay additional taxes of around €30 million.
As it turns out, one of the people labelled as a faceless, unelected bureaucrat is playing a leading role in challenging corporate power!
Most recently, MEPs approved EU wide data protection regulations, which means you will soon be able to know quickly and simply what large online companies like Facebook are doing with your data when you click “Agree” on the Terms and Conditions section of websites, and there will also be stringent rules on how they use the information about you that they collect, wherever you are in the European Union.