Wednesday, February 9

Businesses Reject The Constitution

The UK business community remains concerned about the effects of the EU Constitution if it were to be ratified by the British people in a referendum expected to be held next year.

Alan Jones the Press Association (PA) Industrial Correspondent reports on the Scotsman web site yesterday that Business Chiefs are still sceptical over the EU constitution.
Most business leaders remain sceptical about the EU Constitution with fewer than one in three prepared to sign up, a new report published yesterday confirmed. The Institute of Directors said a survey of 1,000 of its members revealed that only 25% knew how they would be voting.Director general Miles Templeman said: "The Government faces a major challenge if it is to convince businesses they would be better off with an EU Constitution."

The PA does not report that the country's largest business organisation The Federation of Small Businesses (185.000 members) at its annual conference last year voted by over 80 per cent not recommend ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. Last Autumn the Federation's ruling body agreed, with only two abstentions, to adopt as policy rejection of the EU Constitution. Red tape from Brussels appeared to be a major reason for business scepticism, with almost nine out of 10 of those surveyed expecting regulation to increase under the new Constitution.

What businesses leaders are increasingly being made aware of is that rather than reducing the current burden of detailed regulations and directives emanating from Brussels this burden is likely to increase with the wider powers that could be granted to the EU Commission under the constitution treaty.

As any business practitioner will confirm it is not only the number of regulations that is the problem but the difficulty of amending such regulations when circumstances change. There is no point in lobbying MEPs - they can ask the EU Commission for permission to introduce new or amending legislation but the EU Parliament (really no more than an assembly) can not act through its own initiative. One might just as well 'ask the man in the moon'.

The Cabinet Office based Better Regulation Task Force made much of its 'success' in proposing in the original draft of the constitution (article 1-35) that a 'sunset clause' which would enable regulations to laps after a certain period of time and only be expended after reconsideration. Good news indeed.

However, the 'Sunset clause' was removed from the draft and does not appear in the final Treaty agreed by Mr Blair on 29 October 05. The reason for the removal was on the grounds that the clause ' would be a source of uncertainty and a problem for legal security.'

No wonder British businesses have concern about the centralising approach of the EU Constitution and the obvious likelihood of no let up in the regulatory burden.

More on the EU Constitution later

With thanks to The British Management Data Foundation and The Press Association

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