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    New principles to stop GB interpretations of EU law restricting British companies

    Secretary of State for Business, and Chair of the Reducing Regulation Committee, Vince Cable has set out a series of new principles that the Government will use when introducing European measures into UK law. The principles will end ‘gold-plating’ that puts British businesses at a disadvantage relative to their European competiton

    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 said to be part of a wider Government policy to tackle EU regulations at the source. 

    Five yearly reviews of how EU laws implemented

    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.

    The key elements of the principles are:

    • Start implementation work early – businesses will have more chance to influence the approach, ensuring greater certainty and early warning about its impact;
    • Avoid early transposition of EU regs – except where there are compelling reasons for early implementation;
    • Direct copying to UK legislation – except where it would adversely affect UK interests eg by putting UK businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
    • Ministerial duty to review – a statutory duty will be placed on ministers to conduct a review of domestic legislation implementing a European directive every five years.

    The ‘be careful what you wish for’ rule is relevant here.  The principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law can be dangerous. 

    If this principle had been followed to produce the CDM Regulstions 2007 it would have imposed duties on ‘domestic’ clients. However, given the incidence of fatalities on ‘domestic’ construction projects some might say this is not a bad idea!


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