By Max Clarke

Secretary of State for Business, and Chair of the Reducing Regulation Committee, Vince Cable today set out a series of new principles that the Government will use when introducing European measures into UK law. These will end so-called “gold-plating” so that British businesses are not put at a disadvantage relative to their European competitors.

The key to the new measures will be the principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law. The direct ‘copy out’ principle will mean that British interpretations of European law are not unfairly restricting British companies.

The new measures are part of a wider Government policy to tackle EU regulations at the source. Government will be talking with business organisations about the European Commission’s plan for future legislation, working closely with other European countries to make sure that regulations work well on the ground and improving how evidence is used by the European Parliament and Council.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“I want British business to be a powerhouse for economic growth and among the most competitive in the world. This move will bring an end to the charge of “gold-plating”. The way we implement our EU obligations must foster, not hinder, UK growth by helping British businesses compete with their European neighbours.

“The new principles are a first step towards working with British business and Europe to make sure that we introduce EU rules in a way that will not harm the UK economy. By cutting the red-tape that can reduce competitiveness and making sure that businesses are involved in the process both before, and after through five-yearly reviews, we can get the best deal possible for British companies.“

The new measures will place an express duty on ministers to conduct a review of European legislation every five years. The review process would involve a consultation with businesses and provide a unique opportunity to improve how European legislation is implemented, to ensure that it poses as small a burden as possible on business.

Government will also start work early on how to implement EU directives to ensure that there is certainty and early warning about how legislation will be introduced, but will not implement the regulations early unless there is a compelling case to do so. Businesses will be invited to take part in this process and work with Government to make sure that European laws place the least possible burden on companies.

The key elements of the principles are:

* Work on the implementation of an EU directive should start immediately after agreement is reached in Brussels. By starting implementation work early, businesses will have more chance to influence the approach, ensuring greater certainty and early warning about its impact.

* Early transposition of EU regulations will be avoided except where there are compelling reasons for early implementation. This will ensure that British businesses are not put at a disadvantage to their European competitors.

* European directives will normally be directly copied into UK legislation, except where it would adversely affect UK interests eg by putting UK businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

* A statutory duty will be placed on ministers to conduct a review of domestic legislation implementing a European directive every five years. This will allow businesses to influence any necessary improvements based on their own practical experience of applying the rules.