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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

UK government's business taskforce launches push to cut EU red tape

Today sees the release of the Business Taskforce report on cutting EU red tape in an effort to boost competitiveness. As our previous work on EU regulation suggests - the Taskforce is picking up on many of our suggestions - this is a push we are very much in favour of, particularly at a time when squeezing out every bit of economic growth possible is vital for economies across the EU.

The report proposes 30 wide ranging reforms to cut EU red tape.We're still working our way through the detailed suggestions but we've included some initial reaction below, which we'll update as we go.
  • The task force backs the full implementation of the EU’s Services Directive. This could deliver up to a €230bn boost to EU GDP, according Open Europe estimates. However, we have suggested the EU should go even further and push for the introduction of the ‘country of origin principle’ which could increase further gains to closer to €300bn (2.3% of EU GDP).
  • Open Europe welcomes the push to exempt small businesses from burdensome legislation, although more needs to be done to address existing issues with social and employment law.
  • In a report from 2011, Open Europe estimated that EU social policy (i.e. EU social and employment legislation and EU health and safety rules) cost the UK economy £8.6 billion a year. The figure is heavily driven by a few very costly EU Directives – most importantly the Working Time Directive and the Temporary Agency Workers Directive. However, some health and safety laws stemming from the EU also represent a net cost to the UK economy. This is the case, for instance, for the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
  • The task force has adopted Open Europe’s recommendation that low-risk firms be exempted from the obligation to regularly update their health and safety risk assessments.
  • Looking for ways to improve EU-wide competitiveness and the European business environment, as the report recommends, rather than looking for specific UK opt-outs is likely to increase the chance of support from like-minded EU countries.
  • Creation of a digital single market could be vital, particularly from the UK perspective with over 70% of UK citizens having bought products or services online but only around 10% having done so across borders.
  • Open Europe recommended adopting a ‘one in, one out’ rule for EU regulation back in 2010 and continues to support such a move as suggested by the task force’s report.
  • On-going assessment of the impact of regulation is vital. For example, the benefits of many regulations are based on assumptions or forecasts and while probable or viable at the time, these do not always come to pass. EU regulations on environment and climate change are a prime example of this. With circumstances shifting it is important that regulation is flexible.
  • The Taskforce also adopts out proposal that Commission proposals which don't come with a robust Impact Assessment, clearly showing the need for and benefit of the law, should be dropped. We agree that more effective use of Impact Assessments is vital and giving the EU’s so-called Impact Assessment Board (IAB) more teeth (which we has long advocated) and the power to ‘red flag’ harmful EU proposals (e.g. the ban on olive oil jugs) would be a positive start. The focus of the IAB must be to ensure high methodological standards so that approval of a regulation depends on its merits, not political motives (for example, major problems with the Commission’s proposal for a financial transaction tax emerged after it had been tabled and undergone a Commission impact assessment).
These ideas deserve the support of like-minded EU member states at a time when policymakers are desperately seeking ways to improve Europe’s growth and competitiveness. It is essential that these good ideas are followed by concrete action to reduce the existing and future burden of EU law on European and British businesses.


Rollo said...

The Knut agenda; which will have the same success.

Anonymous said...

The coalition cannot even cut its own red tape.

Rik said...

Anonymus 2.22 hits the nail.

It is simply standard with everything governmentish, to start to drivel like a Pavlovian dog when the opportunity arises to propose new legislation.
Combined with the fact that former failed projects are not closed down or at least cut substantially.

You need to get that process under control. A proper evaluation by an independent body of any proposed legislation. But also that such a proper assessment should be part of any new legislation (and how it is financed if there are financial aspects attached). And with a one in one out rule or something similar to get in the process something that gets rid of the old junk.

Especially in Europe a lot of it is shooting from the hip legislation. It is in the process of decisionmaking. Again with in Europe because of complicated decisionmaking process nearly all failed projects kept alive. Also as abolishing idiotic crap doesnot bring 'political media exposure' with it. Simply mainly boring stuff.
You need to make that, childish as it is, part of the process otherwise it simply won't happen.

As far as the legal safety checks it is simply the stuff you read in law school plus a combinition of the financial consequences (budgetary but also GDP or better financial standard of living wise). And properly done not a formality that nobody cares about.

And as Anonymous says the UK with parts of the rest of the world hardly has a 'great' reputation 'Health and Safety' wise. There are blogs abroad that mainly deal with basically portraying UK rules and enforcement as a joke.

So it looks to me that both the UK as well as the EU has 'some' work to do in this respect.
Should be adressed in a very structural way. Cameron is also mainly a shooting from the hip kind of guy by nature. That simply will not work. What will work is proper structured, systematic etc kind of stuff. So it is doubtful if it will happen.

Denis Cooper said...

Heard it all before, more than once; for example in October 2004, nine years ago now:


"Blair: We will tackle EU red tape

Tony Blair says Britain will try to improve European regulation when the UK holds the EU presidency next year.

In a speech to the CBI the premier also said he wanted UK civil servants to take a more "flexible" approach to red tape.

He argued the UK had one of the lowest administrative burdens of any industrialised power in the world.

Red tape remained a major concern for business, he said, adding there was a "cultural" problem in Whitehall.


"For decades, civil servants and politicians have prided themselves in dotting every i and crossing every t when legislating administrative rules," he said.

"We need to change that approach to end gold-plating of European regulations, and rather than assuming everyone is a criminal who needs to be inspected to see if they are breaking the law, adopt a flexible approach to ensure we achieve our targets."

Civil servants should be rewarded for devising ways to meet government aims that avoided new regulation.

"We need to simplify inspection and enforcement, reducing the amount of duplication and overlap," he added.

Mr Blair said half of all major new regulation came from the EU but he insisted European leaders were working towards simplifying laws."

Barry said...

Blair said the lisbon treaty was not the constitution he said he would cut red tape he meant I want a top position at Brussells and don't care how I get it. the foreigners however didn't give him the job they went for rmpy instead.

Average Englishman said...

More disingenuous nonsense from our beloved leaders. As already pointed out by others contributing to this blog, the cutting of red tape has been promised on numerous occasions before with respects to both the EU and Whitehall by politicians from all parties and with equally dismal results.

Given the very limited power and equally limited intentions of Dave and the current crew I predict that there will ne no meaningful changes, only some fiddling around the edges and continuing large emissions of hot air to emphasis how earth shatteringly important the modest improvements they have achieved really are, whilst yet more bad bureaucracy piles up elsewhere, unannounced.

Dream on Dave.

Jesper said...

The services directive and the country of origin principle supposedly reduces complexity?

The country of origin concept will allow a services provider to choose among the legislation of 28 different countries when providing a service in the UK. Choose legislation from the wrong country and someone else will have a competitive edge...

The winner will be the company who chooses the best legislation to comply with. Legislation tend to balance the needs of the business, the customers and the employees. The only one to get any say in the selection of legislation is the business. What is the expected outcome for the other parties (customers and employees (I.e. citizens))?

How much say will UK citizens have in future legislation regarding services if any and all of their concerns are addressed by parliaments in other countries?

Anonymous said...

UK citizens will have the same amount of say none whatsoever, just as we were denied a vote on the constitution because a foreign government in Brussells decided that if they called it a treaty instead the democratically rejected constitution would be railroaded into being, the citizens were completely ignored.

Unknown said...

You need the process under control and the knut agenda will have the same success.
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