Business-led taskforce on EU regulation

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The Business-led taskforce on EU regulation was set up in 28 June 2013 with the aim of identifying 'where action is most needed to roll back EU ted tape' and 'specify how unnecessary bureaucracy holds back growth'. The panel reported back in September 2013 and again one year on in November 2014.[1]

The group was chaired by business minister Michael Fallon.



The business leaders recommended 30 changes to EU law split into 5 categories:

  • Barriers to Overall Competitiveness
    • The lack of a true single market for services
    • Prescriptive requirements on data protection
    • Unnecessary proposals on shale gas
    • Unnecessary non-financial reporting requirements
  • Barriers to Starting a Company and Employing People
    • Requirements to provide written risk assessments
    • Barriers to helping young people into work
    • Costly proposed amendments to rules on pregnant workers
    • Burdensome proposals for sending workers to other EU countries
    • Burdensome proposals for change to information and consultation Directives
    • Inflexible and unclear rules on working time
    • Inflexible rules on hiring agency workers
    • Complex and unfair results from rules on transferring staff between companies
  • Barriers to Expanding a Business
    • Onerous requirements to assess environmental impacts
    • Low thresholds for procurement contracts that place burdensome requirements on SMEs
    • Rules which restrict smaller companies’ access to capital markets
    • Costly new reporting requirements on the oil industry
    • Excessive rules on country of origin labelling for food
    • Costly official controls on food and animals
    • Unnecessary rules on SMEs transporting a small amount of waste
    • Unnecessary proposals on access to justice in environmental matters
    • Unnecessary proposals on soils
  • Barriers to Trading Across Borders
    • The lack of a fully functioning digital single market in the EU
    • High card fees that stop SMEs trading across frontiers
    • Restrictive barriers to international trade
    • Complex VAT returns and delayed refunds
    • Onerous proposals on country of origin labelling for consumer goods
  • Barriers to Innovation
    • Costly and complex chemicals regulation
    • The need for a competitive clinical trials framework
    • The need for a quicker, more flexible licensing regime for medicines
    • Crop protection rules that make EU farmers less competitive[2]


One year on report

In November 2014 a one year on report was released claiming ten of thirty recommendations had now been implemented. These were:

  • 'The Commission agreed a non-binding Recommendation on Shale Gas, rather than binding legislation. This has given energy firms the ability to plan their business with confidence, encouraging investors without undermining important environmental protections. Shale Gas extraction could attract a peak annual investment of up to £3.3 billion, and support over 64,000 jobs in the UK alone.
  • 'The EU agreed a new framework for Non-Financial Reporting, limited to large listed and large public interest companies, avoiding unnecessary new burdens on small businesses.
  • 'The Council agreed a non-binding Recommendation, rather than binding legislation, on Traineeships. This has given Member States the flexibility to decide how apprenticeships and work placements can be delivered, allowing employers in the UK to continue to run tailored schemes with minimal bureaucracy to help get young people into work.
  • 'The agreement reached on the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive limits the amount of paperwork that businesses are required to provide. Member States are also required to publish clear information about requirements when posting workers, providing more certainty and transparency for business.
  • 'The EU’s new rules for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) should reduce the number and length of assessments carried out, particularly for smaller projects, reducing costs for developers and small businesses.
  • 'The EU agreed practical and proportionate rules on Country of Origin Labelling for Food. These give businesses the flexibility to communicate information to the consumer, without imposing significant and unnecessary costs.
  • 'The Commission has proposed an amendment to the Waste Framework Directive to allow Member States to exempt SMEs from registering as waste carriers when transporting low volumes of non-hazardous waste. This could benefit up to 460,000 small businesses in the UK.
  • 'The Commission has withdrawn its proposed Access to Justice in Environmental Matters Directive, which contained unnecessary, disproportionate and inflexible rules that would have been detrimental to business
  • 'The Commission has withdrawn its proposed Soil Framework Directive which would have placed unnecessary burdens on business without any additional environmental benefits. The proposal could have cost the UK economy between £3.75 billion and £7.95 billion over 30 years.
  • 'The EU agreed a new streamlined Regulation for Clinical Trials. This will make it easier and quicker for business to apply and seek approval to undertake clinical trials. It is expected to save UK businesses some £60 million a year.'[3]

Progress is also being made on the following ten recommendations:

  • 'The Commission’s latest REFIT Communication recommends that the costly proposal to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive “should be considered for withdrawal”. This would not affect existing rights, but would avoid potential costs to the UK of an estimated £2.5 billion a year.
  • 'A revised Public Procurement Directive was adopted in March 2014, committing the Commission to seek higher thresholds in the next round of negotiations on the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). Higher GPA thresholds are a precursor for an increase in EU thresholds. The Government continues to press the Commission to update the EU code of practice on SME access to public procurement.
  • 'The Commission signalled in its June 2014 REFIT Communication an intention to consider an evaluation of the Prospectus Directive, in order to improve smaller companies’ access to capital markets. The Government will press the Commission to undertake an ambitious evaluation at an early date, and will make the case for increasing SME exemptions.
  • 'The Commission has brought forward a proposal on reporting requirements for greenhouse gas emissions from fuels supplied under the Fuel Quality Directive. The Government has pressed the Commission to ensure that unnecessary and disproportionate burdens on business are avoided. Agreement by Member States is expected this Autumn.
  • 'The new Commission President has announced his intention to prioritise the creation of a ‘connected Digital Single Market’, with the Commission expected to bring forward a Digital Single Market Act in early Spring 2015. The Government’s new Digital Taskforce will press the Commission to prioritise e-commerce issues in its digital package.
  • 'The European Parliament voted in support of the Commission’s proposal to cap Interchange Fees in April. Agreement by Member States is expected this Autumn, meaning that caps for card fees could be in place by Summer 2015. The Regulation is expected to save UK businesses some £480 million each year.
  • 'The EU has concluded negotiations on its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Canada, which the Commission estimates could bring benefits of up to €26 billion. The EU and Japan have signalled they want to conclude their FTA in 2015, and Japan is taking steps to liberalise trade in automotive, pharmaceutical and food sectors. The Government continues to push the Commission and EU partners to maintain high levels of ambition and make good progress on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
  • 'The Commission proposed improved rules and guidance on the sharing of data and costs under the REACH Chemicals Regulation in July. These should help ensure that registration fees paid by SMEs are transparent, with no unjustified costs. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is also taking a range of steps to make its guidance more SME-friendly, as well as measures to make it easier for small firms to find partners as part of the REACH authorisation process.
  • 'In March, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched a pilot on ‘adaptive licensing’, along with guidance on faster access to new medicines under the existing legal framework. The EMA intends to review the findings of the pilot by the end of the year. The Government will lobby the new Commission to ensure promotion and evaluation of flexibilities for efficient licensing of medicines remains a priority.
  • 'The Commission is planning to review the Plant Protection Products Regulation. The Government will press for the review to be picked up urgently by the new Commission, with clear terms of reference.'[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gov.UK Business taskforce asks companies to help target EU red tape Gov.UK, 11 July 2013, accessed 14 April 2015.
  2. Gov.UK Cut EU red tape: Report from the Business Taskforce, accessed 14 April 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gov.UK Cut EU red tape; One year on, November 2014, accessed 14 April 2015.