26th Oct 2016

Barroso's red-tape-cut not enough, says business

  • "Cut the red tape" initiative - no major breakthrough, say the lobbies (Photo:

The business community has expressed disappointment over the unofficial list of around 70 laws Brussels wants to scrap due to their negative impact on Europe's economy.

They argue most of the bills are overdue and would have to be shelved anyway.

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The European Commission is set on Tuesday (27 September) to present a list of laws to be scrapped.

This list, obtained by the EUobserver, amounts to about 30 percent of the legislation that is already in the pipelines, and dates back to before January 2004.

Over half of the bills to be binned are related to the previous EU enlargement, or the bloc's past international obligations.

The business-focused proposals on the blacklist include rules on package sizes for coffee and chicory, labelling and advertising of foodstuffs, or minimum standards for airline cabin crews.

Several hotly disputed social protection laws are also to go, such weekend bans for lorry drivers, rules on temporary workers - to be reviewed according to the outcome of the debate on the services directive, and the so-called "sunshine directive", already watered down by MEPs.

Not enough, small firms complain

While most business lobbies have welcomed the commission's initiative, they argue it does not go far enough.

"This list of laws for withdrawal must not be regarded as a panacea for the better regulation agenda. For one thing it is fairly limited - most of the texts mentioned are anachronisms that would have been shelved anyway", said Hans-Werner Müller, secretary general of UEAPME, representing small firms.

Paul Skehan, deputy director of Eurochambers, also commented that the actual details of the first proposal are slightly disappointing as "they will not make a huge difference for business".

However, he pointed out "it is not a bad start, not huge but tangible", suggesting the important thing will be where the commission goes from here in its plan to review the existing 80,000-pages of the EU's statute book.

"It's good to say let's get rid of this overdue stuff and focus on issues such as the services directive, REACH or the financial perspective, which are really going to pose a fundamental change in the way business works in Europe", said Mr Skehan.

UNICE officials, representing big industry, said they were still studying the unofficial list and looking through sectoral cases and the possible impacts in these areas.

"The list is not completely useless, even though it contains a lot of enlargement-related issues which are irrelevant to better regulation promoted by the commission", said an official.

Industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen will present the second stage of the de-regulation initiative in October. It should cover the existing European laws that need to be simplified.

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