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EU Regulations

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

The Government are taking action to reduce the burden of EU regulation on UK business. At Budget 2011, the “Plan for Growth” announced a comprehensive package for tackling EU regulation. The Government estimate that the cost of European regulations to the UK has varied from 27% to 60% of the total UK regulatory cost since October 2009.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Although British businesses will welcome the fact that the United Kingdom is not in the eurozone, and will not suffer from the loss of sovereignty and the new regulations that fiscal union would mean, they are nevertheless burdened by EU-imposed red tape, which means that it is much harder for them to compete successfully for new contracts against companies from outside the EU, which are not subject to such regulations. May I urge him urgently to conduct an investigation into and an assessment of the extent to which that is holding back the British economy?

My hon. Friend makes an important point, and that is why we are taking action through the “Plan for Growth”. We want the Commission to publish an annual audit of the cumulative cost of all planned EU regulations, but assessments are not enough in themselves, which is why as a consequence of lobbying by this Government the EU has introduced an exemption for micro-businesses and is looking at lifting the burden of regulation on the small and medium-sized businesses that are key drivers of growth in our economy.

I am sure I am not alone in believing that what regulation we do have should be made by this Parliament and not by the Commission in Brussels. However, I am sure that the Minister will be aware of the survey reported by the CBI that shows that 94% of businesses are concerned above all about demand and the ability to sell their goods and services. Is that not the problem with Government economic policy?

What we need are measures to tackle some of the structural problems in the economy that we inherited from the previous Government and to tackle issues to do with education, transport infrastructure and the complexity of the tax system. Those are the reforms we need to ensure that the economy grows.