European Commission's Jose Manuel Barroso backs David Cameron's call to slash EU red tape

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso agreed that more should be done to bring in "common-sense regulation"

The European Commission has backed David Cameron's call to slash more red tape which is hampering businesses across the EU.

In a display of unity, the Prime Minister and Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso jointly chaired talks with seven EU leaders on the sidelines of a summit in Brussels, with Mr Cameron acknowledging the Commission's "excellent job" so far in repealing nearly 6,000 pieces of EU legislation since 2005.

In return, Mr Barroso agreed that more should be done to bring in "lighter, simpler, cheaper, common-sense regulation".

He insisted that EU action often meant replacing 28 different sets of national regulation with one set of rules for the whole union, something he said businesses needed in areas such as the single market and the growing digital agenda.

But he accepted that, without lowering standards of consumer protection, health and safety and environmental concerns, there were other areas where it was necessary to reduce the bureaucratic burden.

"That is why we have to slash red tape," he said.

The two men showed a united front at a private meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Estonia. All are seen as close allies in the anti-red tape drive.

Also present were Marks & Spencer chief executive Mark Bolland and technology entrepreneur and "angel investor" Dale Murray - members of Mr Cameron's business taskforce team which recently delivered a report making the case for light-touch regulation and suggesting 30 recommendations to reduce companies' costs. The report said that relaxing rules on health and safety alone would save more than £2 billion across Europe.

The Prime Minister told the gathering that businesses now wanted more deregulation to cut costs and bureaucracy "to enable them to compete and succeed".

He added: "The Commission has done an excellent job in lifting the burden of bureaucracy. Now I want to get business engaged."

The question is whether Brussels and Britain can agree on exactly which areas now need targeting. Mr Barroso highlighted the digital agenda as an area needing common EU rules, but at the summit yesterday Mr Cameron singled out Commission plans for tighter data protection laws as an example of something threatening disproportionate additional costs, particularly on small firms.

The Commission insists it is sticking to a timetable of April 2014 to bring in the tougher data protection rules, and Britain has no veto.

Today the emphasis was on back-slapping and harmony, with Mr Barroso quoting French philosopher Montesquieu's dictum that "Useless laws weaken necessary laws".

But officials acknowledged that there are bound to be disputes in future between the two men over which EU laws qualify as "useless".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Email Marketing Services

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders