By Claire West

Yesterday, in the European Parliament, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the European Small Business Alliance (ESBA)launched a written declaration calling for a halt to excessive regulations affecting small firms.

The overall cost to business of EU regulation is a staggering £123.8 billion a year - 3.5 per cent of the EU's annual GDP. The declaration, which has been tabled by a cross party group of MEPs, calls on the EU institutions to halt the introduction of excessive and unnecessary rules and regulations which, far from increasing the EU's economic competitiveness, serve as a barrier to growth and employment.

In 2007, the European Commission presented a far-reaching action plan to reduce unnecessary regulation in the EU by 25 per cent by 2012. Despite the support of the Commission, Parliament and Council very few of these proposals have been implemented and the EU has continued to legislate.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"We want action, not words from MEPs and Commission officials. It is no good Europe talking a good game if it fails to deliver. In the EU, every year 1.7 million businesses fail and over 50 per cent of these businesses cite the regulatory burden as a significant factor.

"In having this written declaration tabled we want to draw to the attention of MEPs and others the promises that they have made and to simply ask them to stand by these promises.

"In the current economic climate we should be making it easier for people to start or grow a business not placing obstacles in their way. It is worth remembering that if just half of the EU's small businesses employed one extra person that would create an additional 10 million jobs."

In tabling this declaration the FSB and ESBA have the support of entrepreneur James Caan.