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Friday, June 28, 2013

Cameron tasks new new business body with sweeping away EU red tape

Will Cameron's new body cut through EU red tape?
David Cameron has just announced that he’ll set up a new “task force” consisting of some of the UK’s best business leaders. Their task is to identify EU rules and regulations that are currently holding back business and growth, which should therefore be scrapped.

We’re told it’s a government initiative rather than a Tory initiative, and it’ll be led by Business Minister Michael Fallon MP.

Apparently, the idea is to complement the balance of competences review – looking at individual rules from a business perspective rather than overarching EU powers.

Now, this will no doubt be met with cynicism. Politicians often blow smoke about cutting bureaucracy and promise to set light to “bonfires of red tape” but somehow the flames never materialise. Meanwhile, such 'taskforces' have a mixed record in terms of results to say the least. Will this time be the same?

In truth, it depends. If it’s an initiative meant to merely distract or fill a rhetorical vacuum, then No 10 will no doubt be called out – and the whole thing will backfire. But if it’s genuinely set up to get down to the real, practical EU rules holding back business – and more importantly is followed up by a very strong push in Europe, rather than attempts at getting quick headlines – then this is a most-welcome initiative. This will also depend on the actual people on the task force, and whether they’re closet status quo enthusiasts or genuine reformers. We’re told the following will be on the panel – we’ve included a summary on anything that’ve said on Europe:
Ian Cheshire, CEO, Kingfisher
Writing in the FT, a few days ago Ian Cheshire argued that “As an international retailer, Kingfisher wants Britain to remain in the EU – but a reformed EU… We enjoy the certainty of a single rule book across the EU but not at the cost of an ever increasing regulatory burden, which must be resisted”.
Paul Walsh, former CEO, Diageo Plc 
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Paul Walsh has said "I support the fact that our prime minister said we should stay in Europe. We are a trading company. We must stay in Europe, we must position Europe for the future, which is more competitive, less regulation."

The others have not said anything in detail about the EU per se but also have considerable business experience in cross-border trade.

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive M&S
Has driven the opening of stores in Paris and other EU capitals, likely making him familiar with the constraints of expanding British business in Europe.

Dale Murray, Angel Investor 2011
Launched Vodafone New Zealand in 1992. Co-founded Omega Logic in 1999. Lots of experience as an entrepreneur and as a business investor. Experience in telecoms which is becoming a hot topic in terms of single market integration and trade.
Louise Makin, CEO, BTG
BTG has offices in Germany and previously President of Strategy and Business Development Europe at Baxters so she has solid background in conducting business across the EU.

Glenn Cooper, Managing Director, ATG Access
ATG Access is the worlds largest manufacturer of security bollards and vehicle barrier systems, currently exporting to over 42 countries.
So the jury is still out. But with the group set to provide its first concrete recommendations as soon as September we'll soon see, and given the huge importance of scrapping and improving EU rules and regulations we’ll give No 10 the benefit of the doubt on this one.


Anonymous said...

I thought Edmund Stoiber, former Prime Minister of Bavaria, is already tasked with that.

Denis Cooper said...

I gave Cameron the benefit of the doubt when he was first elected as Tory party leader, but all doubt disappeared over the following four years.

Rik said...

Would be great if other pro-reform countries would do the same.
Groups like this are most likely necessary to generate the political pressure that things really happen. Internal EU efforts are simply not very credible in this respect.

Anyway cutting red tape is one way to create growth. It can be done at 2 levels national and EU.
Every 0,1% growth so generated avoids painful cuts in other places, or can be used for restoring purchase power.
With growth from other sources hardly looking promising things like this and the proposed 'service directive' are imho the way forward.

Anonymous said...

State's solution to bureaucracy: more bureaucracy.

Jesper said...

Interesting. The people in the task-force looks like people who'd be using lobbyists to get their view across to politicians. By being part of this task-force they get to bypass lobbyists and get direct access.

Some task-forces are set up, and some economic research is done, for one reason only: To provide cover for implementing something already decided.

The set-up of this task-force makes me believe that Cameron is going to push for a further implementation of the services directive.

"It’s a formula, in other words, for a complete breakdown of the effective enforcement of the laws restraining corporations. The directive would, in the name of “bringing down barriers”, raise such barriers for anyone trying to defend their rights that effective public complaint would become all but impossible. This, of course, is the point."

But we'll just have to wait and see what the recommendations will be.

Soarer said...

As usual, they're talking to the wrong people. Major corporates all. They already have the HR staff, employment, contract and IP lawyers, lobbyists and so on needed to comply.

Most jobs are created by fast-growing SMEs, who have none of those people, but still have to comply with all the same regulations.

Governments and major corporates are two sides of the same coin - bureaucracies whose main purpose is to maintain themselves and, in the case of corporates, to increase the barriers to entry for potentially disruptive competitors.

Regulations are such a barrier, and are largely already framed to be in the interest of major businesses.

It is more important for them that new competitors are kept out, than to make their own businesses more efficient. It just isn't in their interests, though it is of the economy as a whole, to make a bonfire of regulations.

Edward Spalton said...

I well remember Michael Heseltine's bonfire of red tape. The height of his achievement was the abolition of local authority licences for pedlars and - a great blow for Wimmins Lib - ladies in Scotland were allowed to become cattle slaughterers.

Even if they do succeed in persuading the Commission and the EU "parliament" and the various presidents and Council of Ministers to repeal something, there will still be yet more legislation being churned. Next year is the year when many "competences" move from unanimity to Qualified Majority Voting.

So, as they say in Glasgow -"Dream on"!

christhai said...

I used to run an internationally trading electronics company.

We traded in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore,Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Vietnam, HOng Kong, Indonesia.
Each country had safety requirement rules. That was easy and product certification, especially for explosive area or military use.

Dealing with "Trade Rules" is actually, just NOT difficult.

Each country had sometimes annoying or slightly silly rules. No worries.
For the posters who say they want to stay in this colossally wasteful and expensive organisation which is so anti-Democratic - because they can't be bothered to learn a few rules - and to inflict the fruits of their bloody laziness on us all - well - to hell with them.

Duncan said...

I will believe this when I see some tangible results.

I've heard it too often before.

clinihyp said...

What a scam! Mr.Cameron is playing games. Both he and his chosen band can identify as many rules as they like.

We've already had the rhetoric from Fallon about renegotiation, to date he has not managed to reverse a single law or regulation, neither is he and the people mentioned likely to do so!

The indisputable fact is that the EU controls all of our business and commerce laws and that under the "acquis communautaire" the EU rule book, powers once surrendered cannot be repatriated!

The only way that any of the powers we have surrendered can be change is by unanimous agreement of all the other member states.The mind boggles at the thought of all those high powered people mentioned, identifying all of those laws and regulations which are considered to be a handicap, and then by some miracle creating time in the EU agenda to get agreement from all the other members to change them to suit us. The chances of that happening are about the same as Ken Clarke defecting to Ukip!

The other alternative is that we invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the declaration of our intention to leave, in order that we can renegotiate the return of powers surrendered. Since Cameron has already made it clear that he intends to keep us in the EU "regardless of how little we get out of it" it follows that he is never going to opt for that!

In short Cameron is slapping his gums as usual with this latest smoke and mirrors exercise in his bid to continue deluding the electorate he is being democratic when he knows full well that it is a meaningless, expensive, time consuming and pointless exercise!