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EU regulation can come with benefits, and though many of these rules would be far easier to scrap or amend if the UK left the EU

Open Europe analyst Vincenzo Scarpetta


It represents an annual burden of £27.4billion for the British economy, says research out today.

Some of the costliest regulations from Brussels impose pointless environmental rules and bureaucracy that strangles our banks or harms agency workers.

The figures – which add more weight to the Daily Express Crusade to get Britain out of the EU – were calculated by the think tank Open Europe.

It said that without laws such as the working time regulations, which cost £4.1billion a year, the Government could slash the Budget deficit.

The think tank conceded that some regulations were beneficial for the UK, but argued that many laws originating in Brussels were overly prescriptive and burdensome.

Open Europe analyst Vincenzo Scarpetta said: “According to the Government’s own figures, we know that nearly a quarter of the EU’s most costly regulations impose a net cost on the UK economy.

“At a time when businesses across Europe are desperately struggling for growth, it is hard to understand how policymakers can knowingly impose costs on the economy that outweigh the stated benefits of regulation.


“EU regulation can come with benefits, and though many of these rules would be far easier to scrap or amend if the UK left the EU, many of them are also locked into domestic law, so would likely remain in place.”

He said EU regulators had to be kept out of areas where laws would be better decided by national parliaments.

“Far too many EU laws impose unnecessary costs on businesses and the rest of the economy,” he added.

“We need to deal with the costliest EU rules and put new mechanisms in place to ensure that when the EU regulates, it does not produce laws better decided at the national level, or which impose unnecessary costs on business.”

The most expensive regulation – new capital rules for banks due to come into force in January – will cost the British economy £4.5billion a year, analysts say.

Other regulations which hit British firms include the temporary agency workers directive, costing £2billion a year, and the energy performance of buildings directive, with a recurring cost of £1.5billion a year.

John O’Connell, research director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Regulations from Brussels are costing British businesses a fortune. Too much time is spent complying with laws dreamed up by Eurocrats instead of getting on with creating jobs and growth.

“Britain’s relationship with the EU needs a serious rethink and in the meantime, Whitehall civil servants must stop gold-plating already burdensome ­regulations.”

David Cameron will throw the ­gauntlet down to European leaders in Brussels this week to sweep away “pointless” EU red tape.

The Prime Minister is demanding that member states and the European Commission “listen to business and move faster” to remove the dangers to economic growth.

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