Monday, 9 February 2009

Paying To Stay In The Prison Of The EU

Some costly home truths about belonging to that 'prison of nations', the EU, courtesy of Open Europe:
Business leaders call on the Government to "adopt uncompromising stand" against over-regulation

In a letter to Saturday's Telegraph, 15 business leaders, including Tim Martin and Julian Blackwell, called on the Government to "adopt an uncompromising stand against regulatory overkill." Citing Open Europe's report published last week on the cost of regulation, the leaders argue "Without fundamental reform, the regulation factories in Whitehall and Brussels will produce still further red tape, at a time when businesses are struggling to cope with their cost base or even, in some cases, to survive."

Meanwhile, an article on page 2 of the Sunday Express looked at Open Europe's report, which found that EU legislation introduced since 1998 has cost the UK economy £107billion, equivalent to 72 per cent of the total cost of regulation during that time period and more than the entire annual cost of the National Health Service. If the current rate of legislation continues for the next decade, the report found, EU regulation will cost Britain £356billion - equivalent to £14,300 per British household, or enough to abolish income tax for two years.

The report also found that EU employment law had cost Britain £31billion since 1998 - over 20% of the total cost of regulation - and that new EU health and safety legislation has cost £5.7billion during the last decade.

The article also noted that the report found that a British impact assessment on the EU's Motor Fuel Regulations 2007 estimated the social and economic benefits at £0 a year, the environmental benefits at £18.5million a year and the costs at £400million a year. Despite the huge discrepancy it was signed off by then Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman on the grounds it was "expected to be the least cost means of complying with our EU obligations".

Open Europe Research Director Mats Persson said that small businesses were the biggest losers and the financial sector, where lack of regulation has been blamed for causing the recession, accounted for only five per cent of new regulations.

He was also quoted saying "Our research clearly shows that despite some genuine attempts at reform, the cost of regulation has skyrocketed over the past decade. The Government has simply lost control. We need a tough new approach to negotiations in the EU. A good place to start would be refusing to accept an end to the UK's opt-out from the 48-hour week, currently under negotiation."

Simon Wolfson, Chief Executive of Next, was quoted arguing, "The mindset of government must change. Policymakers must accept the radical idea that the law should only be used to regulate our endeavours where there is an overwhelming case for state intervention. Secondly, Ministers must be far stronger in resisting new regulation from the EU. They must use all the power at their disposal to stem the tide of regulation coming from the EU, regardless of the unpopularity it may cause us in Brussels. In the long run, the whole of Europe will thank us for taking a stand."

Telegraph: Letters Express

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