22nd Oct 2020

Cameron sees EU 'sea change' on red tape

  • Cameron's anti-red tape report won support at Friday's EU summit (Photo:

UK prime minister David Cameron has praised the European Commission's commitment to slashing red-tape on businesses saying there had been a "sea change in thinking" by Brussels.

Speaking on Friday (25 October) following the conclusion of a two-day EU summit, Cameron said that the commission had "done an excellent job in lifting the burden of bureaucracy. Now I want to get business engaged."

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Earlier, Cameron and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso chaired a meeting devoted to the issue with EU leaders from Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Estonia.

The UK leader also held one-to-one meetings with Germany's Angela Merkel and Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, both of whom have also expressed frustration with EU regulation in recent months.

The basis for Cameron's anti-bureaucracy push was a report published last week by a business task force appointed in June.

The paper, based on evidence from over 100 firms in the UK and others across Europe, stated that firms were being hampered by "problematic, poorly-understood and burdensome" rules.

Among thirty recommendations to reform or scrap EU rules, the report said that exempting small firms from health and safety reporting requirements would save €2.7 billion.

It also called for small businesses to have special treatment when applying legislation on maternity leave and temporary agency workers.

The report had made "a real impact around Europe," noted Cameron, adding that leaders had given it their seal of approval.

The prime minister has previously complained that firms were being "throttled" by EU red-tape and argued that for every regulation and directive introduced another should be abolished.

He added that the language on deregulation agreed by leaders in the summit communique was "the strongest we have seen for many, many years".

"I think that is a success story not just for Britain but for Europe", he said.

EU leaders welcomed "the steps taken by the member states and the EU aimed at better identification of excessively burdensome regulation."

For its part, the EU's executive arm has said it has already cut 5,590 rules and reduced the bureaucratic burden on firms by €32 billion since 2005.

Barroso commented that the commission's recently unveiled 'Refit' initiative, aimed at streamlining the EU rule-book further would lead to "simpler, less burdensome, more 'common sense' European Union regulation."

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