Manufacturers call for drastic EU reform: report

Posted on 7 Apr 2014 by Callum Bentley

Britain’s manufacturers have set out a radical plan to reform the EU and help it focus on lifting the Eurozone out of the economic doldrums.

The proposals from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation are contained in ‘Europe – A Manifesto for Growth’. They come just six weeks before the European elections in May and follow a business campaign to keep Britain at the heart of the EU.

Proposals include a call for a reduction in the number of European Commissioners and the creation of a powerful new Brussels-based red tape taskforce which would have a similar function to the Better Regulation Executive established in the UK.

EEF, which represents manufacturers from multinational companies to small and medium sized firms, wants the EU to reduce the number of 28 commissioners and re-focus their departments.

The industry group argues there is considerable scope for ‘clustering’ of EU directorates general where It believes there are too many of them, leading to a proliferation of policy development, often with significant conflict and development in silos.

EEF is suggesting where there is policy overlap a board of commissioners could oversee the work of directorates bringing together, for example, the Directorates General of Climate Action and Energy. EEF believes this would deliver much greater integration of policy as well as reduced costs and greater accountability.

In its EU manifesto, designed to promote growth and boost industry, EEF calls on Britain to take a leading role in Europe and focus more on the lucrative multi-billion pound trade deals and extending the highly valuable single market. According to its latest survey 85% of manufacturers would vote to remain in the EU.

The manifesto recommends the EU red tape taskforce should:

• Introduce a rigorous competitiveness test for all new legislation to make sure new regulations that harm business competitiveness are re-thought or dropped.
• Agree a one in one out principle for proposed EU laws.
• Produce an annual statement of the cost of any new EU proposals to business, with the new Parliament encouraged to scrutinise and throw out unnecessary red tape.
• Exempt start-up businesses from new legislation and propose a lighter-touch regimen of red tape for all small and medium sized enterprises.
• Creation of a single Impact Assessment Board to scrutinise all EU Impact Assessments. Proposals which do not receive a positive view from the Board should not proceed until amended.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, said: “These elections come at a critical time for the EU. We need all UK parties to come forward with a positive message both about our role in Europe and, how they will seek to evolve its priorities and institutions. This will ensure it is fit for the future, more accountable and focused on growth, all of which are critical for business and for voters.

“A major start would be a cull in the number of directorates, which all have a mandate to propose legislation and, 28 Commissioners who wish to use their term in office to deliver specific policies. This has created a policy and political machine, which churns out new initiatives, directives and regulations which are often developed in isolation, without regard for their impact on competition and growth.

“The Council should look to cut the number of commissioners and control their departments in a more co-ordinated and effective way. This would not only make them more accountable and growth focused but would provide EU taxpayers with better value for money.”

Mr Scuoler added: “We strongly support Britain’s continued membership of the EU. The Commission and the other EU institutions must now work tirelessly to support business and industry and, promote economic growth. The proliferation of commissioners and departments is hampering that effort and with a newly elected parliament and commission we have an ideal opportunity to call a halt to this damaging trend.”