David Cameron hailed a “sea change” in the battle against European red tape after winning backing at a Brussels summit for another assault on costly bureaucracy.
The European Commission praised his business taskforce report earlier this month on reducing the burden on firms grappling with excessive legislation, and at least seven other EU leaders showed support to save billions by removing unnecessary rules and regulations seen as hampering jobs and growth.
“The battle to cut red tape is not just in the UK but in Brussels,” the Prime Minister told a post-summit press conference before returning to London.
“The taskforce report has had a real impact in the UK and around Europe, and the summit conclusions are very strong on deregulation - the strongest we’ve seen in the last few years.
“We can see a sea change in thinking here, giving priority to removing excessive regulation. It’s a success story for the UK and Europe, and I’ll keep pushing it”.
In a display of unity earlier Mr Cameron and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso jointly chaired talks with seven EU leaders on tackling red tape, with the Prime Minister acknowledging the Commission’s “excellent job” so far in repealing nearly 6,000 pieces of EU legislation since 2005.
In return Mr Barroso agreed more should be done to bring in “lighter, simpler, cheaper, common-sense regulation”.
During the day UK government aides patrolled the summit handing out a handy “Cut EU Red Tape” card containing the 30 recommendations set out in the taskforce report for repealing existing legislation or resisting introducing surplus new laws. Taskforce members, Marks and Spencer chief executive Mark Bolland and technology entrepreneur and “angel investor” Dale Murray, were with Mr Cameron in Brussels, to help put the business case against red tape.
Mr Cameron told the press conference: “The priority for my Government is getting the economy moving, creating jobs and getting business going...today we had seven EU leaders coming together because cutting red tape is not just a British concern. It’s an agenda many people care about because we all need jobs and wealth creation and we will not get it if we over-regulate.”
Mr Barroso cautioned that it was good for businesses in areas such as the single market and the growing digital agenda to replace 28 national sets of rules with one set for the whole union.