Slashing Brussels red tape could save €41bn

Guy Bentley
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A group charged with cutting EU red tape has recommended small businesses be exempted "wherever possible" from burdensome regulation. The group claims the measures could save €41bn per year.

The exemptions would apply primarily to laws concerning health and safety and social policy. The 15-member group on Administrative Burdens' report is non-binding but was unveiled by no less than the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

The group was set up in 2007 to cut down on the regulatory burden emerging from Brussels. Referring to the status quo of law making in the EU, the report argued that when regulations were proposed politics was "predominant whilst any resulting bureaucratic burdens were rarely taken into consideration."

Furthermore, governments should avoid as much as possible "gold plating" EU legislation. Up to a third of unnecessary costs on businesses stem from national governments going above and beyond the requirements of EU law, according to the group.

The report calls on the EU to establish a committee to "assess the evidence base for and the costs and benefits" of future regulation as well a red tape ombudsman.

However, the group was not entirely united in its support for the proposals. Four members linked to trade union, and environmental groups refused to endorse the report's conclusions.

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