Business leaders in the West Midlands have welcomed the government-backed Business Taskforce which proposes changing unnecessary EU regulations.
Steve Brittan, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said that the proposals cutting red tape could make a very real and tangible difference to businesses, particularly SMEs.
He said: “The taskforce estimates that relaxing EU rules on health and safety alone could save UK businesses £2 billion.
“Any coherent action taken on reducing unnecessary red tape has got to be good for business. Regulations are supposed to be there to protect businesses, employees and consumers. However, we are now in a situation where we have far too many burdensome, ill-thought through pieces of legislation that are holding back growth.
“What we need is for a review of regulations at EU level and look at how they are being implemented in the UK.
“Chamber members consistently cite regulation as a significant barrier to business growth. Regulation and associated red tape were identified as the second largest barrier to growth and are one of the top priorities for the Chamber’s advocacy and campaign work.”
The Chamber is lobbying the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Birmingham City Council on these issues and is working with the LEP regulation steering and delivery groups.
The Business Taskforce is made up of some of the UK’s top executives and entrepreneurs.
It said said “problematic, poorly-understood and burdensome European rules” slowed production, job creation, sales and innovation and left Europe trailing international trading rivals.
Among the priorities for action in the report was tougher enforcement of the EU services directive to prevent some member states exploiting flexibility to impose “unjustifiable barriers” to trade.
Plans for extended EU-wide maternity leave rights would cost UK businesses £2.5 billion and should be halted, it suggested, and the working time directive should be made clearer on issues such as leave not being allowed to carry over and workplace “on-call” time not counting as working hours.
On top of its recommendations for immediate action, the taskforce proposed a “common sense filter” to ensure new regulation was pro-growth and could be balanced by cutting red tape elsewhere.