Greens have described a new European Commission package, billed as ‘Better Regulation’, as ‘an attack on the fundamentals of democracy, on political accountability and on the ability of the Union to act’ [1]. This new agenda was adopted this week and promises a package of reforms aimed at boosting openness and transparency in the EU decision-making process. Prime Minister, David Cameron, welcomed the agenda, saying it will create ‘significant steps in cutting EU red tape for business’, declaring himself pleased that the Commission had included key elements of the UK’s better regulation principles. However, Molly Scott Cato MEP denounced the package:

“It is ironic that the Commission is introducing a whole series of additional administrative burdens which they claim will reduce regulatory burden! Under the pretext of tackling “red tape” the Commission is pursuing a strongly pro-business agenda, which views legislation above all as a burden rather than as a collective achievement that defends our rights and our health and environmental standards. ”

Commenting on Prime Minster Cameron’s endorsement of the package, Dr Scott Cato said:

“Cameron is clearly involved in some arm twisting here, using the threat of leaving the EU as a lever to push his regulation-light corporate agenda. Yet the government’s own cost-benefit analysis of regulation found that the benefits to society outweigh the costs. When one takes a societal perspective rather than a purely narrow business focus, the benefits to society massively outweigh any so-called regulatory burden.”

Greens point to a DEFRA study which assessed the costs and benefits of 428 sets of regulations [4]. This found the direct cost to business to be £6bn per year with estimated direct benefits of £2bn. However, when it factored in financial savings to government and environmental and health benefits, the total benefits were estimated to be around £10bn, showing the benefits to society of regulation exceeding costs by £4bn.

Notes

[1] Co-Presidents of the Greens group in the European Parliament, Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts have written to the Commission identifying concerns by Green MEPs over the Better Regulation agenda.

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