By Daniel Hunter

Business Minister Michael Fallon will today (Monday) announce that tough new rules imposed across Whitehall have stopped government departments adding to UK business costs by ‘gold plating’ EU legislation with additional regulations.

In the past, Whitehall departments added additional burdens to EU laws - including rules on energy efficient buildings, and health and safety at work - which imposed extra costs and restrictions on business.

But new figures assessing the impact of a government regime introduced in 2011 to prevent gold plating show that from July 2011 to December 2012, there has been almost no gold-plating of EU legislation.

In only one instance, out of eighty-eight cases in which the UK has adopted laws from Europe - including those covering animal health and welfare, protection of the environment and transport - did a department propose placing additional burdens on UK business.

To build on this record, and deliver more certainty for business, Mr Fallon will continue to withhold agreement for any new regulations that gold-plate legislation. Ministers are also monitoring how other EU countries transpose legislation, in order to ensure the minimum necessary is implemented in the UK.

Speaking to the Centre for Policy Studies today, Michael Fallon will also pledge to build on this success by re-doubling government efforts to slash UK red tape.

Mr Fallon will say that although the government has made good progress to date, with government action already expected to save business around £1bn in reduced costs, he agrees with the business community that more radical action is required to remove barriers to growth and to promote a culture of enterprise.

New reforms include a ‘growth duty’ on over fifty different regulators, ensuring that enforcement is consistent with minimum restraints on economic development. Regulators will be required to use their resources more intelligently to root out malpractice and help firms meet their legal obligations. And a second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will launch this spring, giving businesses another opportunity to tell the government where action is most required.

Business Minister Michael Fallon will say:

“The government has been fighting hard to make sure that red tape from home or abroad never puts UK firms at a disadvantage compared with their European counterparts. And we’ve clear evidence that our no-nonsense approach is starting to work for business.

“We continue to work with partners in Europe to reduce the burden of red tape on business. We have already had successes, but we need to go further to stimulate growth and jobs.

“I want to re-define how regulation works, placing regulators on the side of the majority of law-abiding businesses. So in the second half of this Parliament we will be even bolder and turn the screws tighter on burdensome red tape.

“To give growth a boost we must support challenger businesses — the dynamic upstarts that drive innovation, exploit new technologies, and bring competition into markets. And the evidence is clear that compliance and administrative costs pose a barrier to growth or even market entry for these small firms.

“So we must de-regulate further and faster, both at home and in Europe. Where regulation is absolutely needed we’ll apply it in a more business-friendly way. These reforms are not about relaxing standards. They are about changing the culture so that businesses are seen as part of the solution and enterprise is rewarded.”

Priorities for making the EU more business-friendly include persuading the Commission to publish an annual statement of the net cost of EU legislation, to help business see what burden of regulation stems from the EU; and making sure that business have an opportunity to influence EU proposals at an earlier stage.

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