Call to tackle 'gold-plating' must be heard, says Conservative MEP

Golden words from the Commission, time now for action in the UK

STRASBOURG, 15 March 2006 -- The European Commission call to tackle the national problem of 'gold-plating' EU laws - a habit the Labour government is especially fond of - is another step in the right direction in the battle to cut burdens on business, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament said today.

The vice-president of the Commission, Günther Verheugen - who has particular responsibility for enterprise - said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg that national parliaments should also have an enhanced role in the scrutiny of directives from Brussels.

Sir Robert said that 'gold-plating' - the unnecessary embellishment of EU laws with yet more red tape at national level - was hugely damaging to the British economy, and those blaming Brussels for over-restrictive regulations should look at the government's record on the issue.

In 2004, Conservatives issued an eight-point action plan to "reverse the drivers of regulation" ahead of the UK Presidency of the European Council: the first two points dealt specifically with the problem of 'gold-plating'. There was no response from the Government.

He added:

"We have long been calling for action to stop gold-plating but the government has done nothing to address the problem.

"The UK leads Europe in terms of the extra layers of red tape it adds to EU directives when transposing them into UK law.

"The British Chambers of Commerce 'Burden Barometer' recently stated that additional costs to business of complying with regulations approved since 1998 has hit the £50 billion mark.

"No other EU country has created such an added cost. It is time to free up the creative potential of our entrepreneurs to let them do what they do best: creating jobs to make competitive products consumers want rather than feeding back forms for the increasing number of government bureaucrats."

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