Oct 2008 26

Against the background of worsening economic conditions and businesses struggling to remain solvent, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) today publishes a detailed study of the severe burden placed on business by EU regulations. The report reveals the true scale of EU regulations, and uncovers the fact that the pace of regulation is increasing at a record rate, with thousands of new regulations introduced each year. As well as over-regulation from Brussels, though, the report also studies the contribution made to the regulatory burden by "gold plating" in Whitehall, with civil servants and Ministers adding extra rules, greater complexity and unnecessary sanctions to regulations passed down from Brussels. With the UK’s regulatory burden costing British business £150 billion a year, the report proposes three simple, practical ways to reduce the problem and therefore help British business to weather the economic storm. To read the full report, click here (PDF).

Key Findings

  • There are currently 16,980 EU acts in force. Between 1998 and 2007 there has been a net gain of 9,415 EU laws.   
  • In 2007, 3,010 EU laws became UK law, while only 993 EU regulations were repealed – a net gain of 2,017 extra laws. 
  • The rate of new EU laws has increased to a record speed, with a net gain of over 2,000 new laws in each of the last two years, compared to an annual average net gain of only 942 new laws between 1998 and 2007. Almost half of the extra 9,415 EU laws created in the last ten years have been introduced in 2006 and 2007. Despite EU rhetoric about reducing regulation, it is growing at a record rate.
  • Whitehall also adds to the burden: at least 770 pages of UK Statutory Instruments will be needed to enact the 76 Directives passed by the EU in 2007.  Assuming this as an average per year, then EU directives alone have necessitated over 7,700 pages of UK law since 1997.
  • Despite the enormous amount of EU legislation, UK gold-plating and poor enforcement practices exaggerate the burden of regulation.

Recommendations for change

  • The European Union (Transparency) Bill would force Ministers to declare to Parliament which new laws are derived from EU laws. This would increase awareness of the sheer scale of the EU’s regulatory machine and make it impossible for the Government or Whitehall to smuggle through their own unpopular policies in the guise of EU requirements.
  • Regulatory sunset clauses would ensure that all regulation expires after a certain time period, unless Parliament voted to renew it. This would cut out regulatory dead wood and avoid unnecessary regulations lingering on after they have become useless or counter-productive.
  • More powerful Parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation. British Parliamentary scrutiny of EU laws is extremely weak and ineffective, particularly when compared to the successful, stronger powers of other countries such as the Danish Parliament. The UK should adopt the Danish system of  a Parliamentary committee with the power to scrutinise every single EU law.

Download the report here (PDF).

Ben Farrugia, a Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Regulations are an enormous burden to business, particularly in a time of financial hardship. The EU’s addiction to regulating and Whitehall’s compulsive gold-plating have added billions to business costs in recent years. Both the legislative process which has created this regulatory tangle and Britain’s relationship with the EU needs a serious rethink.”

  • http://marksany.blogspot.com marksany

    Well, the above is true, but what a strange conclusion? We need to leave the EU, not reform our internal processes, which are irrelevant.
    The EU is putting non-British laws upon us which we have no control over. The issue is not informing people what laws are from the EU, but the fact that these unwanted laws land here and we have no say in them.
    Can. We. Leave. Now.

  • http://thejournal.parker-joseph.co.uk/blog/_archives/2008/10/27/3950302.html PJC Journal

    UK in Recession – The Fiscal Burden of EU Regulation

    The Taxpayers’ Alliance published new research earlier today, indicating massive growth in the burden of EU regulation for Britain’s struggling businesses:

  • http://profile.typekey.com/Britishbulldog/ Wayne

    There is only one answer to EU problems and that is to leave the EU.

  • R. H. Bennett M.B.E.


  • Jim Laflin

    The Cost of EU membership
    Britain has had a negative balance of trade with the EU for the last 23 years.
    The current cost of British membership of the EU is £50.6 billion per annum.
    That is equivalent to £1,939 for every single taxpayer in the country
    By 2007, the total cost of British membership of the EU was £66.3 billion. That is £66,300 million
    80% of the British fishing fleet has been scrapped. Thousands of British fishermen have lost their jobs. Our fish stocks have been severely depleted, and we now buy British fish caught by foreign trawlers.
    British steel plants have been closed with the loss of thousands of jobs so that German steel plants could survive.
    France now owns more British power stations than Britain. Who do you think will get the first cuts when the power runs out?
    Kinnock, Mandleson, and Lamont, were all thrown out by the British electorate and subsequently given fat cat lobs as Commissioners
    If you are happy with that situation then carry on ignoring it.
    If you are not happy with it, please forward this message to ten of your friends.

  • stephen thompson

    Leave the EU? That would mean voting UKIP or BNP. I would not have a problem with either but what about “the masses”? The smear campaigns and allegations of
    “racists”, although pathetic, do put people off.
    The BNP appear to be a party discussing much wider issues (and trying to raise awareness of them) than just immigration. I am not a BNP member but believe that freedom of speech must be defended at all costs.
    Yes, we need to leave the EU but have we gt the sense to do this?

  • http://www.epaneurope.eu Rainhard Kloucek

    UK should leave EU, this would benefit EU!

  • http://www.vomit.org.uk Michael S Ross

    I supose another possibility would be the RSPCA approach. i.e. Get a huge number f activists to hijack local Conservative associations and insist on choosing prospective candidates who’d vote for a pull out. In other words, wrest the party back to the hands of those with common sense rather than those with titles money and connections who seem to think the Tory party is their plaything.

  • Ray Hawes

    Married members of the armed forces are frequenly parted for often protracted periods due to the exigencies of the service.At those times there would be no question of being given free accommodation at either location.The choices would be to vacate the original accomodation and move enfamille to the new location,if that is possible,or to retain the original accommodation for the family and pay for accomodation for the detached member at the new one.
    I see no difference in the MP’s circumstances.They should be offered public accommodation as the armed forces would be
    whilst on detachment,which they have to pay for.As has already been stated,there are plenty of opportunities to set up suitable accomodation for that purpose.
    There should not be any thought of paying taxpayers money for them to maintain a second home

  • Pingback: EU DICTATORSHIP SPOT: Why bother with Euro Elections...?