Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cut red tape or suffer decline

Latest of the long line of critics, the government’s own "red-tape czar" is calling on the EU to improve its business regulation or face long-term economic decline, according to The Times today.

This was from David Arculus, the chairman of the Better Regulation Task Force, speaking at a conference organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs in London. He then spoiled it all by saying that the new EU commission represented "the best chance of change that Europe has ever had".

Descending even further into unreality, he then declared that the policies that the government had pursued to lower the burden on business should be spread across the EU. Strange how no one happens to have noticed the burden diminishing.

To achieve this stupendous feat, Arculus suggested that more bureaucrats might need to be hired, to carry out "high-quality impact assessments" on all EU proposals. New EU legislation should be easier to amend and there should be mandatory consideration of alternatives to legislation, he said.

He then called for an independent organisation to monitor and audit red tape and said: "There need to be sufficient commission civil servants (sic) to carry out these functions and to progress the simplification agenda."

Asked what would happen if red tape continued to grow, Mr Arculus said: "I think the consequences for Europe are extremely serious." Europe’s economy could decline to half the size of the US over the next 20 years if the tide of regulation was not stemmed, he said.

That, of course, it the way it is going to be – if the EU lasts that long. Regulation is not primarily a matter of procedures but of attitude and culture. The EU commission regulates in the way it does because that is the only way it knows. It is incapable of doing it any other way.

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