Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion is urging businesses in the West Midlands to have their say in one of the largest ever consultations on business regulations by the European Commission.

img 4670aThe move follows a campaign by the Lib Dem ALDE group of MEPs highlighting the need to streamline 'red tape' to give small to medium sized businesses the best possible chance of getting the economy moving again.

Surveys by the Federation of Small Business and other business groups have highlighted the problem that smaller businesses have in complying with complex regulations, and many cite it as the biggest obstacle to taking on more staff and expanding their business.

Now EU bosses have agreed to look for suggestions of where 'red tape' can be cut without harming workplace safety and the environment. The European Commission has launched a three month consultation to businesses across Europe before drawing up formal proposals.

Phil Bennion, the West Midlands MEP who has a seat on the European Parliament's Employment Committee, commented:

"Lib Dem MEPs and MPs have been pressing for years to get both the EU Commission and the Whitehall machine to realise that over-complex regulations really are a block to economic growth.

"My colleague Lorely Burt, the Solihull MP, who like me used to run her own business, has also been pressing for action in this area, so it is good news that she now has a job in the Treasury.

"The coalition has introduced the 'one in one out' rule on regulations, which is progress. For too long civil servants in Whitehall had free rein to 'gold plate' basic EU requirements.

"As a farmer it always seemed ridiculous to me that the IACS form we had to fill in on our crops was 16 pages long in the UK, while the Irish version was only two pages, but still legally valid.

"I have raised the issue of red tape personally with the EU Employment Commissioner and stressed that this must not be a token effort. There is great potential to help businesses take on more staff and get our economies moving again.

"I think the message has been taken on board. I believe this consultation is a serious attempt to grapple with the problem and listen to what business has to say.

"We have also had some success in Brussels, where Lib Dem MEPs have been working to make it easier for 'micro' businesses to hand in simpler accounts.

"Environmental protection and health and safety are important, but the key is to ensure that procedures are appropriate and practical. Now is the chance for business people at the sharp end to have their voices heard and offer practical ideas of how and where to simplify bureaucracy. It is a 'use it or lose it' opportunity."

The European Commission consultation ends on 21st December. To take part visit