Research by the think tank Open Europe has shown that the Acquis is now over 170,000 pages long in total and that from 1998 to 2008 the number of legal acts in force in the EU has gone from 10,800 in 1998 to over 26,500 in 2008.
While some legislation may be advantageous, for example if it helps complete the internal market, the sheer volume of new EU rules represents an added burden on business and highlights how Labour has failed to prevent powers being passed to the EU in a number of important areas. For example, EU labour market laws already account for over 20 percent of the total cost of regulation in the UK. Despite this, the UK government has agreed to a new directive that would force employers to give agency workers equal rights as full-time staff, thus adding new burdens to business. Labour MEPs are also still seeking new ways to scrap Britain’s opt-out of the Working Time Directive, which has been essential for workers and businesses to remain competitive.
The Labour government and Labour MEPs have allowed far too much extra regulation to be imposed on our charities, workers and businesses.
The European Commission claims to have a programme for scrapping or simplifying laws that are obsolete or unnecessary, but frankly they have very little to show for it. The pace needs to be moved up several gears.
If the Lisbon treaty comes into force, the number of rules will be even higher. That’s why the British people must have the referendum they were promised by Gordon Brown.
Entrepreneurs should be free to grow their businesses and people should be free to live their lives with as little interference from the EU as possible. Too many people feel the EU creates rules and regulations but that it is not on their side. It is time we looked at the EU’s rulebook and asked what regulation we really need.
To view the Open Europe research, see: