News story

UK and 18 other EU countries call for business red tape reduction

Member states, including Germany and France, call for new target to reduce burdens on business, ‘unleashing potential of all businesses’.


Eighteen EU member states have joined Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid in calling on the EU to slash burdens on business, demonstrating a clear commitment from across Europe to the UK’s competitiveness agenda.

The UK ministers, alongside Finance Ministers and Business Secretaries of the other EU member states, who between them represent over three-quarters of EU citizens and over 80% of EU GDP, have written to European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans calling for the Commission to adopt clear targets for reducing the overall burden of EU regulation on business, writing:

Our regulatory system needs to be fit for the 21st century. This means better and simpler regulation. Unnecessary burdens in EU legislation must be removed.

The letter reinforces the Prime Minister’s call earlier this month for such a target in his letter to Donald Tusk on the UK’s renegotiation and his speech which urged the EU to go further in adding to our competitiveness, rather than detracting from it.

The letter welcomes Mr Timmermans’ leadership and the more strategic approach taken by the Commission towards cutting business red tape, demonstrated by the recently-published 2016 Work Programme’s focus on competitiveness, going on to state that:

We must build on the momentum for change in our regulatory culture and ensure that progress is never rolled back. It must nourish entrepreneurship and innovation, and provide for the future prosperity of all our citizens.

New targets for reducing the burden of business regulation would build on this approach. The Commission has already introduced an administrative burden reduction target, showing that such mechanisms are workable and effective. The introduction of business burden reduction targets would be a major step forward in the EU’s approach to regulation.

The letter has been signed by Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The adoption of a target to reduce business burdens would be the most recent UK-driven step towards greater EU competitiveness, adding to recent successes including the commitment to abolish roaming charges as of June 2017 and legislative proposals under the new Commission having fallen by 80%, with more regulations set to be repealed this year than in the whole of the previous Commission.

EU Business Ministers will discuss the letter with Vice President Timmermans during Monday’s (30 November 2015) Competitiveness Council in Brussels.

Published 27 November 2015