Wednesday, August 17, 2005

No tears for the CBI

European industry, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in today's Telegraph business section, is alarmed by a raft of EU-wide environmental laws and rules expected this autumn, fearing that Brussels has opted for "gold-plated" proposals that could impose heavy costs on business.
The new plans, he writes, are the first major test of the European Commission's pledge to take a "business-friendly" line on new legislation, subjecting draft laws to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

At the top of the list of objectors is the Confederation of British Industry which is complaining that of an air quality proposal due next month aimed at reducing fine dust particles and ground-level ozone, thought to cause a range of ailments from asthma to heart disease.

Alice Hume, the CBI's senior policy adviser on environmental regulations, says the EU (sic) is already spending €66billion (£45billion) a year on air quality. "Air quality has improved a great deal, so it is not as if nothing has been done until now. We are concerned that this latest proposal will go too far, bringing limited benefits at a high cost," she said.

Other proposals in the pipeline cover waste, soil, pesticides and marine life, although not all will entail legislation. UNICE, the EU-wide business federation, warns that the air quality plan alone could cost up to €18billion annually.

Since its inception, this Blog has been railing at the cost and crass ineptitude of EU environment legislation, but we also recall that one of the most prominent cheer-leaders for the EU project has been the CBI and before it, the Federation of British Industry – which played a prominent role in the 1975 “yes” campaign.

Now, however, the "project" is hitting industry in the pocket, the CBI is weeping and gnashing its teeth, but we find it very hard to find any tears for an organisation which has been so enthusiastic for British membership of the EU. When, perhaps, it starts actively campaigning for our withdrawal, we might have some sympathy.


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