22nd Oct 2016


The real agenda behind cutting red tape

  • More than 80 percent of EU red tape originates from a couple of policy areas – taxation and company law (Photo: Dennis Skley)

One of the worrying issues that emerged from last week’s European Council in Brussels is the ‘cut red tape’ initiative promoted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The proposal, which was welcomed by other EU leaders, is cause for alarm and threatens the protection of European citizens and the environment.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The initiative is based on a report prepared by a UK Business Task Force specifically appointed by Cameron to advise him on identifying burdensome EU regulations.

Red tape, by definition, refers to regulations and policies that are unnecessary and do not serve society’s interests. The recommendations of the Business Task Force to withdraw, change, or weaken EU regulations have very little to do with addressing red tape.

The measures targeted include important pieces of regulation such as food labelling, safeguards against chemical poisoning, rules on greenhouse gas emissions from engine fuels, the rights of communities to be informed about industry activities affecting their environment, and rights to be able to take a company to court when it violates the rules.

What is under attack are essential measures to protect people and the environment in areas such as health and safety, data protection, climate change and labour and consumer rights.

We should be alarmed that European leaders do not recognise the social and environmental benefits of the safeguards business is trying to undermine, nor that these are an essential component of a positive economic environment.

Few businesses stand to benefit long-term from a world of depleted resources, environmental damage, and an unhealthy workforce.

A consultant report commissioned by the European Commission High-Level Group on reducing administrative burdens already found that more than 80 percent of EU red tape originates from a couple of policy areas – taxation and company law.

Only 1 percent of the burden relates to environmental rules such as the ones that ‘Cut EU Red Tape’ would like to get rid of.

This is revealing of the real agenda behind this initiative. When regulation serves the direct profits of big business, it is welcomed. When not, it is labelled red tape.

A real reform agenda would initiate an urgent transition away from the drive for short-term profits that has led us into the current crisis situation and towards a new economy based on sustainability principles.

The writer is Director at Friends of the Earth Europe


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity