Marks & Spencer chief heads charge against EU regulations

BUSINESS leaders will this morning set out 30 EU regulations that they believe should be scrapped in order to help the British economy, in a boost for Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to renegotiate a new relationship with Brussels.

The business taskforce, headed by a team including Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland, was commissioned by the government to identify “burdensome rules” imposed on Britain.

Key proposals include scrapping  requirements for small firms to keep detailed health and safety assesments, oppose plans to introduce restrictions on shale gas exportation, and complete the pan-EU single market for services.

In an unusual move the businessmen will present their ideas directly to this morning’s cabinet meeting.

“Business people, particularly owners of small firms, are forced to spend too much time complying with pointless, burdensome and costly regulations and that means less time developing a new product, winning contracts or hiring young recruits,” Cameron said.

Simon Walker, president of the Institute of Directors, said the proposals should be taken to next month’s European Council meeting: “Efforts which could otherwise be spent on innovation and investment are instead exhausted battling complex regulatory burdens.”

EU President José Manuel Barroso insisted he is committed to the principle of ensuring “that the EU does not meddle where it should not”.

■ Complete a true pan-EU single market for the services industry.
■ Reduce existing overly prescriptive requirements on data protection.
■ Oppose EU plans for a new directive controlling shale gas exploration.
■ Reduce unnecessary financial reporting requirements for privately-held firms.
■ Slash requirements for written risk assessments in low-risk sectors.
■ Oppose plans to regulate traineeships.
■ Stop plans to require firms to offer 20 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay.
■ Stop new rules on firms temporarily sending workers to other EU countries.
■ Oppose plans to standardise employment dispute rules across EU.
■ Clarify the rules on the UK’s exemption from the working time directive.
■ Reconsider rules that give the same rights to agency staff as full time workers.
■ More flexibility for transferring staff to a new outsourcer.
■ Cut environmental impact assesments.
■ Make it easier for SMEs to bid for EU contracts.
■ Make it cheaper for SMEs to raise money on capital market.
■ Exempt oil firms from disclosure rules.
■ Reduce food origin labelling rules.
■ Reduce costly food law checks.
■ Cut cost of disposing waste for SMEs.
■ Reduce ability to mount legal challenges on environmental grounds.
■ Withdraw proposals for soil monitoring.
■ Create a pan-EU digital single market.
■ Slash credit card fees on inter-EU sales.
■ Complete free trade deal with US.
■ Clarify cross-border VAT rules.
■ Cut country of origin labelling rules.
■ Simplify chemical manufacturing rules.
■ Reduce clinical research paperwork.
■ Licence medicines faster.
■ End ban on crop protection products.