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ELLIOTT Matthew red tie

Matthew Elliott is Chief Executive of Business for Britain.

Today sees the publication of ‘Cut EU Red Tape’ by the panel of business people tasked by the Government with investigating EU regulation. Under the chairmanship of Michael Fallon, the impressive Business Minister, the report recommends cutting or amending 30 pieces of red-tape in a bid to ease regulation on British businesses, a change they say could save “billions”.

It is a really welcome development and – after the first tranche of reports from the Balance of Competences review provided a somewhat rose-tinted of our EU membership – it is heartening to see the taskforce getting to grips with the problem of Brussels’ overregulation.

It is a very illustrious panel too: Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of M&S; Ian Cheshire, CEO of Kingfisher; Glenn Cooper, Managing Director at ATG Access; Louise Makin, CEO of BTG; Dale Murray CBE, Angel Investor 2011 and BIS Non-Executive Director; and Paul Walsh, formerly of Diageo. It will not be easy for the pro-Euro camp, who have in the past tried to downplay the impact of EU red-tape on UK plc, to dismiss these findings.

Yesterday Business for Britain sought to lay the ground for this new report by releasing research on the volume of new EU laws.

We looked at every new directive and regulation introduced by Brussels since the start of the current Parliament and found there had been 3,580 new pieces of red-tape that will impact on different businesses in Britain. Shockingly, it would take 92 days for a business person to read all these new regulations introduced since May 2010, or 55 minutes every Monday to catch up with all the EU laws that had been introduced in the last week.

Now, we’re not pretending that every single directive and regulation will apply to every British business, and we acknowledge that a functioning single market needs rules to work. But we can say with total surety, having begun our consultation of the business community and spoken to hundreds of bosses already, that the volume of new EU red-tape is strangling growth and putting many entrepreneurs off starting their businesses.

The stakes are very high. According to a 2010 House of Commons Research Paper (10/62): “The British government estimates that around 50 per cent of UK legislation with a significant economic impact originates from EU legislation” and Open Europe estimates that EU regulation introduced since 1998 will cost the UK £184 billion between 2010 and 2020.

This report is a very useful start to the challenge of tackling EU red tape, and the taskforce should be congratulated for identifying so many useful reforms in the space of a few months. This should be a first step in the process and I hope that the taskforce – or a similar body – will continue to look for other ways to tackle the crippling effects of EU overregulation. These proposals should be welcomed by anyone who wants to see businesses freed from the unnecessary red-tape that restricts jobs and growth in Britain.

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