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EU Business Regulation

Volume 459: debated on Thursday 3 May 2007

7. What estimate he has made of the cost of EU regulation to British businesses; and if he will make a statement. (135433)

The Government estimate that the total administrative burden on businesses, charities and the voluntary sector in England derived from EU legislation is approximately £6.3 billion. This estimate excludes the costs of EU administrative burdens on financial services, which are not available in this format.

Gunter Verheugen, the EU Commissioner, has said that the cost of EU regulations on EU businesses amounts to €600 billion, but the European Commission has said that the benefits to EU businesses of the single market amount to less than €200 billion. With the regulations costing three times as much as the benefits and with 90 per cent. of British businesses not getting any real benefit from the single market but facing all the costs of the regulations, is it not increasingly clear that British businesses would be better off out of the European Union?

This is a welcome day: all sorts of Jekyll and Hyde Tory policies are being announced by Conservative Back Benchers. I am delighted to hear a confirmation of what we all believe to be the view of most Conservatives—that they want to withdraw from Europe, with a massive cost to jobs, prosperity and the growth of the UK economy.

The hon. Gentleman attributed a figure to Gunter Verheugen, but I think that that figure alluded to another set of figures. The figure of £6.3 billion is an estimate accepted both by ourselves and by the Commission. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be delighted to know that, as a result of the work being done by the UK together with the Netherlands and Denmark, we have encouraged the European Commission and the EU to look for a reduction of administrative burdens of 25 per cent. by 2012. That mirrors the ambition that we have in the UK, and it will mean more effective use of EU resources and regulations to support growth not just in the UK economy, but in Europe for the global economy.