Thursday, October 6

Smaller font needed

The recent announcement from the President of the European Union (EU) Commission Jose Manuel Barroso that he is planning to scrap a raft of fatuous redundant EU Regulations should at face value be applauded.

The announcement suggests a trend of the reversal of the core assumption upon which the EU operates, that being that the mass of regulations imposed across national boundaries creates a conformity which enhances the liberalisation of trade. The tens of thousands of jobs that are created both at the heart of Europe, in Brussels and in the 25 member states are dependent upon the principle of the ongoing expansion of the principle of harmonisation.

Neither the millions of 'EU citizens' who are busy complying with the continuous outpouring of regulations nor the ever expanding compliance industry need concern themselves with a change of culture from the EU.

The details of the bonfire of regulations is that out of 183 regulations that were recently reviewed only 68 will be withdrawn or amended. This should be put in the context that since 1997 alone the EU has passed 4,806 more regulations, directives and decisions than it has repealed (Foreign Office official Figures).

Barroso also promised to cull the 80,000- page law book of the EU, known as the Acquis Communautaire, to a more modest 50,000 pages. This proposal has comically provoked the members of the European Parliament (EUP) to voice opposition to the idea. Josep Borell, President of the EUP, has questioned whether the Commission has the authority to withdraw legislation which has already gone before Parliament. Procedurally he may have a point, which gives an glimpse of the minimal powers the EUP actually has.

The UK Parliament is mute (as it has to be) and nods through every new directive and regulation that it is sent by the EUP on behalf of the EU Commission and the EU Council. Has anyone ever heard of the Commons trying to countermand a Brussels directive ? The often made point that our Westminster Parliament 'goldplates' regulations is something of a myth, in actuality it does not happen, a point I proved when I asked the Policy Office of the Federation of Small Business (last October) to provide some recent examples. There were none, the regulations are well plated when they are delivered from the 'regulation factory' in Brussels.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any change to the belief of our EU masters that business can be regulated into prosperity, the news of scraping red tape in and from the EU is bogus.

As for the objective of reducing the EU's statute book down by 30,000 pages to 50,000; I propose a smaller font is used !

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