Iod calls for changed Europe treaties

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN should try to renegotiate EU treaties and directives such as the Social Chapter, the Institute of Directors says in its manifesto for the European elections published today. The firmly Eurosceptic employers' organisation says it remains fully committed to UK membership of the EU, but claims too many European policies are damaging British business.

"The single market is essential, but the Government needs to stop the red tape," said Ruth Lea, head of the IoD's policy unit.

"The plethora of EU regulations, whether product, environmental or labour market, hamper British business efficiency and competitiveness."

The organisation's manifesto calls for a rejection of any plans to harmonise taxation, and says there must be no "premature moves" towards UK membership of the euro. Britain must stay out of Emu for "the forseeable future", the document argues.

"British membership of the euro, without adequate convergence, could only damage the British economy," it says.

Unless significant policy reforms are forthcoming, "the UK should consider renegotiating its commitment to all aspects of the EU treaties," Ms Lea said.

As well as demanding "fundamental reform" of the Social Chapter and similar employment rules, the IoD urges the government to reject the proposed Takeovers Directive. It also demands fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and a resolution of damaging trade disputes with the US.

The IoD's concern about the impact of red tape, especially governing employment issues, is shared by other business organisations. The Social Chapter and Working Time directives have been joined by domestic measures such as implementation of the minimum wage and Working Families Tax Credit, alarming companies about the extent of the new regulations affecting them.

However, the IoD's committed anti-euro line puts it at loggerheads with the Confederation of British Industry and British Chambers of Commerce.

These two employers' organisations, which are discussing whether to merge, would agree with some of the detail in the IoD's manifesto, but not with its outspoken anti-European tone.

On the contrary, the CBI is to call for a more specific commitment to joining the euro if, as expected, a poll of its members shows a majority in favour of a clear time horizon for the decision.

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