Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Article excerpt

Fundamental rights and quite nice ideas; it's a fare cop on Le Shuttle; how to curb the over-pushy lenders; my crash course in decor... Evan Davis at large.

It's been hard to escape the debate over the European Union's new constitution. But has anyone noticed the odd style of European legislative drafting? I refer to the Charter of Fundamental Rights that might be tacked on to the constitution, bestowing on us those freedoms so familiar from the French and American constitutions.

Article 1 of the charter says: 'Human dignity is inviolable.' Article 2 says: 'Everyone has the right to life.' Article 5: 'No-one shall be held in slavery or servitude.' So far, so good. But the charter gets more prosaic as it goes on. Article 14 says: 'Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational and continuing training.' Vocational training? Isn't that a little specific for a document that also insists: 'Everyone shall be equal before the law'? It's as though the unfettered thinking of the founding fathers has had a head-on confrontation with some mid-level EU bureaucrat, mixing up fundamental rights with good public policy.

Take Article 29, 'Everyone has the right of access to a free placement service.' Coming after 'everyone has the right to life', a free placement service doesn't have quite the same ring. This isn't a fundamental right - it's just a good idea. And finally, what about the provision that talks of a right to free compulsory education? How can something compulsory be a right? I think some decent sub-editors are called for.

Holiday season again, and maybe you are about to take a car across the channel for a trip to the continent. If so, you may hear the phrase 'ticket abuse' while you're on the ferry ticket sales line. What can it mean?

Ticket abuse is a big issue for cross-channel operators. The problem arises from their wacky fare structures. For example, a day return through the tunnel costs only pounds 15. A single, on the other hand, costs pounds 155. I understand why Le Shuttle has this kind of pricing. If it charged everyone pounds 155, the trains would be half-empty and it wouldn't make money; but if it charged everyone pounds 15, the trains would be crammed but they still wouldn't make money. So they charge the less price-sensitive customers a high price and give cheap prices to discount customers. It's a similar story on the ferries. …

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