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EU Regulation

Volume 559: debated on Thursday 7 March 2013

5. What steps he is taking to reduce the costs of EU regulations affecting farmers and food producers. (146580)

We are committed to reducing regulatory costs on farmers and food processors. In the EU we are working closely with the Commission to ensure that all new proposals adhere to the Commission’s communications on smart regulation and the Government’s guiding principles for EU legislation. We are reducing unnecessary burdens from existing legislation through our response to the farming taskforce, with initiatives that include taking action to simplify paperwork and improve the way on-farm inspections are performed.

Figures from my hon. Friend’s Department show that in the past two years, 67 EU regulations have been passed, adding £500 million in costs to British farmers and producers. What steps is he taking to support our farmers by cutting back on EU regulations and cutting the costs of the EU for British farmers?

Not all those costs will impact on farmers and food processors, of course, but the hon. Lady raises a valid point about the cost of EU regulation that I hope is not lost on Members of the European Parliament and European Commissioners. That is precisely why we are committed to making progress on our better regulation agenda and why at EU level we continue to press for all new proposals to adhere to the Commission’s smart regulation policy. We are also abiding by this Government’s principles for EU legislation, which include regulating only when there are no alternatives and ensuring that there is no gold-plating when introducing European measures into UK law.

When I met the Minister on 10 December last year to discuss my Food Waste Bill, he promised he would give me a copy of the advice his Department had received from the Food Standards Agency about whether the provisions in the Bill to remove civil and criminal liability from good faith donors of food waste would be compatible with EU food safety regulations, as it was suggested by his Department that they were not. I am still waiting for a copy of that advice despite chasing the Department—can he update me on that?

I can only apologise that the hon. Lady has not yet received that information. I will look into the matter in the Department to ensure that she gets what she has asked for.