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Government Attacks EU Health And Safety Law Implementation


Government plans to change the way European directives become part of UK law have been condemned by the TUC as 'dangerous' and 'counter-productive.'

Business secretary Vince Cable, who chairs the Cabinet's Reducing Regulation Committee, said the government intended to end 'the charge of 'gold-plating' so that British businesses are not put at a disadvantage relative to their European competitors.'

He added: '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 business secretary does not say that gold plating of EU directives actually occurs, and the accompanying business department news release refers only to 'so called' gold plating. This is something likely to be seized on by critics who believe the government is attacking a non-existent problem to justify a shift towards weaker laws.

Three TUC reports this year have comprehensively refuted the government's claim that UK businesses are burdened by red tape, one of these dealing specifically with health and safety. Safety laws in the UK now start out as EU directives, and have been a key target of the government's deregulatory drive.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, commenting on the new government approach to EU directives, said: 'This is a depressing, dangerous and counter-productive policy. For the government to say that it will always settle for the bare minimum of any European policy - whether it's designed to protect consumers, the environment or people at work - is a profoundly depressing position.' He added the government move 'entirely bypasses the UK's democratic processes and for Euro-sceptics must be the ultimate surrender to Brussels as it leaves important areas of UK law to Brussels rule-makers and the UK courts.'

Source: TUC Risks / TUC



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