The Institute of Directors today gave qualified backing to Brussels’ attempt to lighten the regulatory load on business in the 2016 Work Programme, published this afternoon by the European Commission. But Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the IoD, warned that business will judge the Commission on the change it delivers, not the rhethoric:
“It is absolutely right that Brussels is reviewing the impact of EU regulation on businesses. This is the perfect opportunity for European regulators to press the pause button, and take a look at the effect on small and medium-sized firms in particular, who often bear the brunt of EU laws.
“Reducing the burden of EU red tape and enforcement of existing Single Market rules remain the top reform priorities for IoD members, so we are heartened to see the level of prominence given to these in the Commission’s work programme for next 12 months. Now they must follow through with concrete change.
“However, we are concerned by the idea of developing a new ‘pillar’ of European social rights, and plans for EU action to deal with work-life balance, as these are areas best addressed at the national level. The flexibility of the UK’s labour market was vital in keeping unemployment low during the recession, and it is very important for our members that it is protected.
“Brussels must also make sure its plans to combat corporate tax avoidance do not catch legitimate tax planning. The Commission is right to follow the lead of the ongoing international initiative on corporation tax (the Base Erosion, Profit Shifting initiative from the OECD/G20), but it must implement the new rules in line with Europe’s global competitors, so member states are not put at a disadvantage.