Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion has welcomed proposals from the European Commission on how to reduce EU regulations for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

phillip-bennion-mep-1After a survey of around 1000 small firms and their representative groups, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the UK, the Commission has published a list of the most burdensome EU rules for SMEs and suggested ways they could be improved.

Issues highlighted for action by businesses include public procurement requirements, tachographs, over-complex health and safety and product safety rules and data protection procedures.

The Commission move followed a campaign by Liberal Democrat MEPs to cut EU red tape for local businesses and entrepreneurs and give a boost to growth and jobs.

Phil Bennion MEP, the Lib Dem employment spokesman in the European Parliament, commented:

"Small and medium-sized enterprises provide the backbone of our economy and the key to recovery and boosting local employment, providing two-thirds of all private sector jobs.

"Lib Dem MEPs have worked hard to cut unnecessary red tape through our 'Thinks Small First' campaign for SMEs, which builds on the Commission's 'Think Small First' principle.

"We have already won exemption for SMEs from burdensome EU accounting rules which will save small businesses £400m a year.

"On the transport committee I have recently helped to prevent MoT testing being extended to smaller trailers and faster farm-use tractors.

"However, as shown by the European Commission's survey, there is still a long way to go in removing proceedures not strictly necessary for smaller businesses. We will continue to work closely with the FSB and small businesses to find the best way to simplify regulations.

"I was with the FSB at the Three Counties Show in Malvern last week and many of the business people I talked to stressed that we should not get out of the EU, but make sure that rules for trade were proportionate.

"Sensible rules to set a level playing field across the EU are beneficial, indeed essential, allowing businesses to trade and expand easily across all the countries in the EU single market.

"It is much easier to follow one rulebook rather than 27 different ones. But we need to make sure that this rulebook is simple, proportionate and fair, helping small firms to grow their businesses and take on new staff."

"Liberal Democrats in government have already helped to create one million private-sector jobs since 2010. Making it easier for smaller firms to take people on by cutting red tape will help us reach the target to deliver a million more."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Commissions's follow-up to its consultation on the most burdensome pieces of EU legislation can be found here
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/news/archives/2013/06/pdf/1_en.pdf 

The FSB's response to the consultation can be found here:
http://www.fsb.org.uk/policy/assets/final%20fsb%20top%2010%20burdens%20response.pdf 

Last year the Lib Dems launched their Think Small First campaign to boost successful entrepreneurship: http://www.libdems.org.uk/latest_news_detail.aspx?title=Lib_Dems_launch_'Think_Small_First'_campaign_across_Europe&pPK=ae882265-e768-4a27-b8a2-8e37000e0d05