Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
5/31/2005
11:43 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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More IT Jobs May Leave Europe In Wake of France's 'Non' Vote

For a country where unemployment is north of 10%, France seems unduly anxious to ensure that well paying, white collar jobs forsake its shores for foreign soil.

For a country where unemployment is north of 10%, France seems unduly anxious to ensure that well paying, white collar jobs forsake its shores for foreign soil.The country's rejection, by referendum, on Sunday of the proposed European Union constitution represents more than just a dismissal of the document itself. It's an affirmation of France's desire to cling to economic and labor policies that are more old line Marxist than progressive socialist. As a result, the country is further isolating itself from the global economy.

The EU constitution is meant to create a more tightly integrated, uniform economic bloc throughout Europe and improve trading conditions for domestic producers and foreign investors alike. Yet proponents of the "Non" vote painted it as a Trojan horse for American-style free markets that would mean "the dismantling of the right to work," according to the left-wing lobby group Attac.

In fact, by bringing greater political coherence to Europe and by inhibiting the growth of trade barriers, the EU constitution would improve Europe's international competitiveness, ensure its place globally and spur job growth. On the other hand, a politically and economically stagnant Europe will assuredly see more outsourcing and mass layoffs, like those recently announced by IBM, by multinationals in high growth industries like computer services and biotech.

I suspect a number of global firms are already planning to outsource IT work from France to Eastern Europe or Asia in the wake of the referendum. Meanwhile, in Germany, victories by the left in regional balloting have forced chancellor Gerhard Schroder to call an early election. German voters, apparently, want to create a less-competitive business environment even as high costs have already led national firms like Siemens to move the bulk of their software development to Asia.

It's a tough lesson, but European voters need to learn that survival in a global economy, in which work can be shunted around the world at Internet speed, requires a hospitable business climate. The merits of globalization can be debated, but there is no stopping it and Europe needs to get on board for the sake of its workers and IT industry.

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