European business red tape reduction called for

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A reduction in the legislatory burden is being requested for European firms

A reduction in the amount of red tape that surrounds the operation of businesses across the eurozone has been called for by the UK government and a range of other EU member states.

Business and finance ministers from 19 nations have come together to sign a petition for the European Commission to examine means for delivering a reduction in the regulatory and legislative burden on small businesses across Europe.

In total, this group represents more than 80 per cent of EU gross domestic product.

The letter has been signed by UK chancellor George Osborne and business secretary Sajid Javid, and calls for the Commission to adopt clear targets for reducing the overall burden of EU regulation on business.

It has been signed by high-profile representatives from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, in addition to the UK.

Calling for "better and simpler" regulation and regulatory systems that are fit for purpose in the 21st century, the document is addressed to European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans and claims increased cross-border collaboration can help Europe to become more competitive on a global scale.

It also outlines the requirement to place the needs of small businesses at the core of the future regulatory process, as these firms remain the lifeblood of European entrepreneurialism and innovation, and should be encouraged wherever possible.

Responding to the announcement of this far-reaching request, national chairman of the UK's Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) John Allan said: "The FSB welcomes this renewed push and focus on EU decision-makers to 'think small first' before they regulate.

"In a FSB survey of over 2,000 members, small firms said that the highest priority for government should be the reduction of red tape. We hope the European Commission heeds today's letter and genuinely takes forward its commitment to 'think small first' in all its decisions.  

"Small businesses want to see targets established to reduce regulation in burdensome areas, building on successful regimes, such as those in the UK."

The letter has been penned following the prime minister's correspondence with president of the European Council Donald Tusk earlier this month, which urged the European minister to go further in boosting cross-border teamwork to enhance competition across the continent, rather than to detract from it.

It comes at a time when levels of red tape across the EU are being reduced, with more regulations set to be repealed this year than in the whole of the previous Commission period.