Cunningham leads government crusade to rid European Union of excess regulation

22 Jul 99
Britain hopes to capitalise on the arrival of a fresh team of Brussels commissioners to reinforce its drive to pare down European Union regulation.

23 July 1999

Cabinet minister Jack Cunningham this week issued civil servants with a 31-page Guide to Better European Regulation. Part of the Modernising Government agenda, this sets out rigorous tests that should be applied before proceeding with regulation at European Union level.

Drafted by the Cabinet Office, the guide lays out the requirements for an impact assessment before onerous new rules are created. It also explains how consultation and alternatives to regulation should be sought.

Cunningham told Public Finance: 'It will help improve the ways in which all UK officials – policy-makers, administrators and lawyers – go about regulating at the European level. It will add transparency to the whole process of working with Europe.'

Romano Prodi, the European Commission's new president, has appointed British commissioner and former Labour leader Neil Kinnock to reform the sleaze-hit Brussels machine. Many people in the UK and Scandinavia believe that it is legislatively excessively heavy-handed.

Cunningham commented: 'We are writing to Prodi and Kinnock and, without prejudging things, we are optimistic that they will listen hard to our ideas.'

A number of other countries, including Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Finland, the current holder of the six-monthly rotating European Union presidency, are also eager to curb red tape, according to the minister.


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