The air, the water, the atmosphere, the rocks, the vegetables, the animals, etc; environment is the support of the life. That’s why the man owes to respect it because the life of the man depends on it. However, this one, key element of our survival, is dangerously affected by our activities. The pacifist and ecologist actions, at the end of the 60s, allowed making take into account to numerous persons that the excessive exploitation of natural resources caused a threat for the human race on the long term. That is why, today, the environmental protection is an important governmental part of the concerns.
The treaty on the European Union was otherwise called Maastricht Treaty ( 1992 ), the Amsterdam treaty ( 1997 ) either still the treaty of Lisbon ( 2007 ), are environmental European treaties with the aim of protecting the environment and therefore, human races.
Furthermore, with the intensification of the environmental policies, companies are forced to respect rules updated. That is why we can wonder; why the development of environmental policies could be a disadvantage for the competitiveness of the European businesses? In front of these new policies, can the European companies be competitive in front of multinationals? We shall answer this problem in two points: first of all we will deal with what are the impacts of environmental policies on the European companies then, we will analyze consequences of the policies on companies and on their competitiveness.
Competitive being for a company is a crucial question. Indeed, the competition being strongly present in several business sectors, the competitiveness of a company takes then all its importance. “A related concept is competitiveness at the level of firms and industry, focusing on price and cost developments of production and other parameters potentially affecting the growth performance, market shares and investment and location decisions of firms in the regulated sectors”. (Commission of the European Communities, the Effect of Environmental Policy on European Business and its Competitiveness, 2004).
Strongly struck by the standards and environmental politics, European businesses have several impacts.
We can consider several impacts of in European government policies. The first impact is the pressure of the government. Indeed, an environmental policy often drives to a modification of the resources of the company with the aim of adapting itself to the new environmental policy. The nuisances caused by European companies make object of important costs, which companies do not consider, and do not thus include in their prices: climate change, decrease of the harvests, the increase of the number of waste, atmospheric pollution, depletion of natural resources, development of diseases, etc. All these costs are thus outsourced, what means, that these costs are not paid by the company but by the communities. In 1972, the principle of the pollutant-payer is going to change the situation. The principle of the pollutant-pays (1972) was elaborated in the objective to make become aware in household, to companies, to regions and to countries, in their production costs, the external costs to the company which would strike a blow at the environment. The polluter pays principle aims at minimizing the pollution produced by the economic agents, but also at exempting the households of the expenses of pollution of companies.
For example, with the polluter pays principle, the Amoco-Cadiz company, ten years after the wreck of their tanker (1978), which soiled 360 km of French coasts, indemnified the Bretons (living of Brittany, France) for the nuisances caused to the habitants. The company will pay out £35 million to the French State and £12 million to the Bretons in compensation. (Le Monde.fr, 2010).
The governmental pressures and the environmental policies are thus going to urge companies