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The British option – a business proposal for EU renegotiation

14 January 2014

11:31 AM

14 January 2014

11:31 AM

Announcing the Balance of Competences review in July 2012, in which the Government launched a consultation of Britain’s membership of the EU, William Hague told MPs that ‘we must take the opportunities for Britain to shape its relationship with Europe in ways that advance our national interest in free trade, open markets and co-operation…that should involve less cost, less bureaucracy and less meddling in the issues that belong to nation states.’

Today, Business for Britain has published the first of several position papers that we are proposing as a means of re-balancing our relationship with Brussels under the Foreign Secretary’s terms. ‘Setting out the British Option: Liberating 95 per cent of UK business from EU red tape’ has been informed by over six months’ in-depth consultation with Britain’s business community and is, we feel, an entirely workable and achievable change that would make a big difference to UK plc.

For many years it has been accepted wisdom that onerous EU red-tape is the price we have to pay for access to the Single Market. The Working Time Directive, laws on waste management, regulations dictating the amount of rosemary you can put on your pasta… all are necessary, we’ve been told, in order to make sure that Europe is a level playing field.

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But only 5 per cent of British companies export to the EU (Government figures actually put it at around 2 per cent, but that excludes services and smaller exporters). This raises a serious question: how can it be right that 100 per cent of companies have to deal with the EU’s regulatory burden – costing time, money and, as the Government’s Business Taskforce noted, dissuading some businesses from even starting up – when 95 per cent of firms don’t enjoy the benefits provided by the Single Market?

Instead of forcing all companies to comply with European legislation, we suggest that Parliament should be able to draw up a list of the most onerous regulations that companies and organisations who don’t export to the EU should be allowed to opt out of. The only companies that should have to abide by the whole burden of European law are those 5 per cent who export to the EU. We expect a company who exports to China to abide by Chinese regulatory requirements, but no-one would argue every corner shop in the UK should have to sign up to Beijing’s rules. So why not apply the same logic to the EU?

We have called this simple idea the ‘British Option’ – a reflection of the fact that Britain needs its own idea for imagining a new relationship with the EU, rather than copying any existing model – and it has been designed to fit with the five principles for renegotiation that David Cameron set out in his Bloomberg speech last year:

  1. Competitiveness: Freeing up 95 per cent of our companies from EU red tape would be a major boost to British business as it seeks to tap the fast-growing economies in East Asia and Central and South America. Readers may remember how frustrated Steve Hilton and Oliver Letwin were by the restrictions of EU laws as they sought to make the UK more competitive earlier in this Parliament.
  2. Flexibility: The British Option would finally create the more pro-business environment in the UK that the Government is pushing for. It would also be very easily transplanted to other EU countries should they wish. As the Prime Minister rightly said in his Bloomberg Speech, ‘Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything. For example, it is neither right nor necessary to claim that the integrity of the single market, or full membership of the European Union requires the working hours of British hospital doctors to be set in Brussels irrespective of the views of British parliamentarians and practitioners.’ The same can be said of non-exporting companies.
  3. Power flow back to the member states: Our proposal would give Parliament the ability to decide which EU rules should apply to all companies and which should only be for those who trade in the EU – amounting to a large chunk of sovereignty returning to Westminster.
  4. Democratic accountability: Under our system the EU institutions would design the laws governing trade between member states and the British Parliament could say which regulations non-exporting companies and organisations could be exempt from. This would inject some much needed democracy into the EU legislative process.
  5. Fairness: Today British business is in a horridly unfair position. 95 per cent of businesses are expected to comply with European rules but don’t reap any benefits. At the moment they have no choice but to comply with the letter and word of European law – under our system they have a choice. If they didn’t wish to export to the Single Market, they could focus on the UK and export to the fast-growing countries outside of the EU.

The British Option provides a positive, constructive vision for what British business wants from the upcoming negotiations. The Government has asked for ideas as to how to make the EU fairer and more competitive – the British Option fulfils both criteria.

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Show comments
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  • OriginalChris

    R North has written on this, and effectively put M Elliott’s claims/strategy in perspective in a typically robust article on his eureferendum blog:
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84628
    EU politics: the British Option?

  • Penfold

    Yet another talking shop to be bored to death by EU apparatchiks and pro-EU’istas.
    You cannot do a deal with the EU, it requires all 27 to agree, and they certainly won’t be backing us.
    There is only one option;
    A) Stay put, do nothing and take the pain, accepting federalism and an end to democratic process.
    B) Invoke Article 50, have a referendum, and either go back to A) or renegotiate and have an amicable divorce.

  • Reconstruct

    I wish you luck if you expect Mr Cameron to say anything substantive about his proposed ‘renegotiation.’ His continued silence on the content and timing of such negotiations convinces me he intends nothing more than some ineffective posturing followed by a completely illusory ‘triumph’, followed by a newly-enthusiastic embrace of the monster.

    We’ve seen it so many times before. Fool me once, more fool you. Fool me twice, more fool me.

  • Smithersjones2013

    You destroyed the credibility of your argument in the first sentence. Quoting Wet Willy EUnuch (Barroso’s spokesman in London) is no better than quoting Clarke or Mandelson

  • peterooo

    All very clever. The only problem is, your proposal comes up against an immovable obstacle: “NO”.

    Back to the drawing board… next time, write a proposal with the same commendable goals, but which takes the obstacle into account… I suggest you call it “Evoking Article 50”.

  • global city

    The thing that most drives me to despair is the British habit of debating the EU wholly through the prism of ‘business’.

    It is much more than that. It is first and foremost about building a new nation…an undemocratic one.

    Those who still persist in purely talking of ‘business’ are idiots, ignorantly toeing the Heath line, which was deliberately created to blindside the population as to the main goal of the EU.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Correct, the arch-traitor Heath wanted us to become part of a political union, a pan-European federation, but he disguised that true political intention by talking about economics, including of course the increased export opportunities for British businesses if we joined the so-called “Common Market” (while in general conveniently forgetting to say anything about their increased opportunities to export to us).

      In his blog articles John Redwood frequently refers to the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties as the “federalist” parties, which invariably provokes rejoinders that the Tory party is also a eurofederalist party, insofar as most of those leading it have long been and still are eurofederalists, and to give him his due he is usually generous in publishing those critical comments.

      However he clearly does not like it when I point out that to my knowledge only one of the three main parties has ever dared to display the flag of EC, as it was then, on the platform at its party conference, and moreover giving it the position of honour as superior to the British flag.

      That is what would happen in the US, which is a federation with a federal constitution; there is a widely accepted international protocol about the relative positioning of different flags, and as strictly applied in the US it is the US federal flag, the Stars and Stripes, which must always be given the position of honour as superior to a state flag.

      You can see that for the 1984 Tory party conference, at just under 8 minutes in here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOizSzKZtRY

      when Thatcher was giving her defiant and courageous speech after the IRA bombing.

    • sfin

      A very good point!

      • global city

        I did not suggest that those who disagree with me are all idiots. I said people, from the In or OUT argument who take their analysis from a purely business focus are idiots… and they are, if they cannot appreciate the much wider areas that the EU intrude upon.

        I do agree with your general point however, I am just saying that I did not mean my insult that way!:)

        • sfin

          Point, clarified, and taken – thank you.

  • Denis_Cooper

    The benefits of the EU Single Market are in any case greatly over-hyped.

    It was originally projected that it might provide a one-off boost of about 5% to the collective GDP of the EU member states; as far as I’m aware that hasn’t been achieved, but even if it had been it would have been equivalent to just a couple of average years’ growth of the UK economy at its long term trend growth rate.

    So there was a choice: give up swathes of democratic self-government in an attempt to get a slightly higher GDP, or wait for a couple of years for GDP to increase to that slightly higher level through natural growth; and Thatcher made the wrong choice when she pushed for the abolition of national vetoes through the Single European Act, and moreover undermined the basis for the popular consent given to EEC membership through the 1975 referendum.

    • sfin

      Totally agree! The Single European Act was Margret Thatchers biggest mistake and one that, I believe, haunted her the most, reliant as she was, on the economic ‘intellectuals’ of her day. Her biggest failing – allowing short term economics to override democratic principle.

    • global city

      Yes. Another question that should be asked of Europhiles (as they did to Farage) is to ask them would they still support ever closer union if that made us a bit poorer, which over the years it clearly has.

  • The Meissen Bison

    Staggeringly stupid! A non-UK firm exporting to the UK would have to comply with single market rules that a non-exporting UK firm could ignore? That’s not a single market, is it?
    Withdrawl from the EU is the only way of advancing the interests of the 95%

  • Colonel Mustard

    Missing the point really. The red tape is a symptom of the disease. The disease is the creation of an ‘industry’ whose product is bureaucracy and red tape. Where you have a construct where far too many people earn lucrative salaries for producing red tape and bureaucracy you can expect the red tape and bureaucracy to increase and spread. Which is what has happened.

    We now have multiple tiers of legislators and regulators, elected and unelected, all in the business of deciding ways in which control over our lives can be increased and extended into every nook and cranny. This is their ‘job’. It is not going to go away until those ‘jobs’ are eliminated or reduced to the bare minimum together with protocols that prevent unnecessary or overly risk averse legislation and regulation.

  • Will Rees

    I think it would be of benefit to go further, sart at at WTO level, and then as Alexandr metions look at the gold plating applied at EU and National level

  • Bemused

    I am not against this proposal at all but there is an obvious failure of internal logic. Since we are in the EU (and Business for Britain are not advocating withdrawal) companies do not “export to the EU” they sell their products and services within the EU. If there are EU-wide standards for goods then how can there be a different standard within the UK so long as we are a member state?

  • Jez

    Isn’t this getting renegotiated anyway with the EU procurement changes that are happening?

    I hope i haven’t got this completely wrong- as it would dent my utter disgust at the cynical games this government think their clever enough to inflict on the ever dumbed down electorate.

    I need to do some research- in the meantime anyone who wants to prove me wrong please do so, as i want to get my head around this.

  • Denis_Cooper

    I don’t see why it should be called the specifically “British” option, it must be the case that there are numerous businesses in other EU member states which do not export any of their goods or services across the international borders within the EU and have no intention of ever doing so, and they could all apply for a blanket exemption from all those EU laws which have a claimed legal basis in the Single Market provisions of the EU treaties and instead choose to be regulated by purely domestic laws under the authority of each of their sovereign national parliaments, laws which would then be amenable to amendment by each of those parliaments if they should subsequently prove defective because of poor original design or changed circumstances.

    It would merely require each of the domestic businesses to obtain a certificate that they are indeed purely domestic businesses and not exporting businesses, which would entail making a declaration that their goods and services were sold on the clear basis that they were not for export to any foreign country within the EU, or more precisely the EEA.

    But of course the eurofederalists would not accept it, they would insist that their eurofederal laws must apply uniformly throughout what they think of as being the Union territory, as another means to further their objective of “ever closer union”; and so this proposal is unlikely to get a particularly favourable reception from those leading the three old political parties in the UK, let alone elsewhere across the EU.

  • SonofBoudica

    Ah, very interesting. But, you see, the Continental businesses which export to the UK will complain that they face an uneven import playing field against the home team who don’t have to comply with the ruinously expensive Brussels red tape. Bearing in mind that the rest of the EU enjoys a £50 billion a year trade surplus with the UK that means that Brussels will fight tooth and nail to protect the interests of German (and others) Big Business who make an awful lot of money out of the UK, quite apart from our annual tribute to Brussels in the order of £12 billion a year – which could explain why our roads are in a state which requires at least £10 billion spending on them.

    • HookesLaw

      You are saying that a trading block of what 400 million (?) enjoys a trading surplus with a country of 63 million? Who’d a thunk it?
      The UK net payments to the EU were 6.9 billion in 2012.

      • James Allen

        You really are too stupid for words:
        >Switzerland has a trade surplus with China (pop. 8m versus 1,400m). Trade balance is obviously about more than just population!!
        >UK’s contributions to EU rose in 2013 and will rise again in 2014; it’s no good quoting 2012 figures!!

      • fubarroso

        Net payment is meaningless because we only get to spend the money that is returned on unwanted projects that the EU dictates and subsidies that distort internal markets.

  • James Allen

    Did anyone else see the press conference held by Cameron with a variety of “senior” business people, Chancellor Merkel and Barroso, ostensibly about “cutting EU red tape”? Merkel could barely contain her mirth… it was the most idiotic, pointless, downright embarrassing display of PR bullshit I have ever seen. Cameron will NEVER renegotiate a fair deal for Britain in the EU because the European project was never about countries “pooling sovereignty” to advance their own interests; it was about giving up sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats over whom we have no control in order to further the political ambitions of the European elite.

    OUT OUT OUT!!!

    • HookesLaw

      And if we are out we would still have to comply with EU rules to be a member of the single market. But have no say in agreeing the rules.

      Are the British electorate going to vote to leave the single market and see a loss of inward investment and see industries relocate to countries that remain in the single market?

      • Alexsandr

        Yes. everyone will leave the UK and prefer the over regulated EU. Yes I can see that.

        • James Allen

          Just like they’re all piling into France right now to take advantage of the excellent growth opportunities advanced by Red Ed’s mate in the Elysee…

      • James Allen

        Oh dear, not these stupid arguments again. Any trading party has to comply with the trading rules set by their counterparty. We don’t propose a union with USA simply to trade with them. If you tie yourself in to an ever-shrinking marketplace, with no ability to make trade deals outside of it, you lose trading influence and affluence globally. I wish HookesLaw you could take a step back and think about these things for a second before posting the same old gumph day in, day out.

        • HookesLaw

          You offer a pig in a poke. You go ahead and tell workers at
          Nissan their jobs are safe outside of the single market. And all the future inward investment? Do you think the electorate would be persuaded as they balance the reality with your invective?

          • James Allen

            The CEO of Nissan said UK should enter the Euro. Do you think he was right then?

            • Reconstruct

              And never forget that it’s not Nissan, it’s really ‘Renault-Nissan’: Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, and Nissan owns 15% of Renault. Oh yes, and the French govt owns 15% of Renault.

              So listen carefully when Nissan talks: you might catch a French accent.

          • global city

            that has atually increased since the Bloomberg speech ’caused uncertainty’.

            Strange… another ERM/Euro assumption.

            • James Allen

              Labour were worried it might “damage investor confidence”. Unlike a £1.4trn debt, £130bn p.a. deficit and a 30% fall in Sterling… I f*cking hate these simpletons on the BBC who pass for pundits and haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about. Sadly people lap it all up….

          • Smithersjones2013

            Do you think that the EU will turns its back on what will become its single largest external market (twice as big as the next single market)?

            Puhlease enough of your ridiculous absurdity!

          • Hexhamgeezer

            .and what about those made redundant so firms could relocate to the Accession countries ? And we pay the EU for the privilege of making those Brits redundant.

      • Smithersjones2013

        You keep peddling this nonsense but have no positive argument for remaining in (there is none).and worse seem to lack any faith in the UK poulation being able to stand on their own two feet and succeed without the EU.

        Have you no faith in your country?

      • sfin

        I can see your argument, but I would argue that Europe ain’t where it’s happening.
        One of the tragedies of Heath’s sell out was that we, effectively, ignored that great legacy of empire – the Commonwealth.
        I believe that the European union (which, incidentally, is not what we voted for) is a millstone around our necks as a trading nation.
        We can no longer go into bat, on the global stage, on our own terms, we can only do so as part of an, undemocratic, grossly inefficient, bureaucracy.

    • global city

      Exactly

  • david7even

    Spiffing idea! Except of course its not on the agenda, and not an option post Lisbon. Just how mind bogglingly stupid are these people and the idiots in Westminster? Do they still not grasp what ‘Ever closer Union’ actually means?
    Even when the President and the Commission say its full steam ahead for a United States of Europe, these numpties are still trying to rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    There are two choices. Leave by democratic means, or fight to destroy this corrupt occupying power by any means available.

  • Makroon

    The business area is the most important, the most threatening and the one where we have most common ground with potential EU allies.
    However, Hague and his chums are obsessed with the social, legal and defence areas, and, of course, (pushed by UKIP), immigration.
    Defence and immigration are areas where a robust government position will quite easily prevent EU abuses, and “reforms” in the social and legal areas, (which will be difficult to achieve), will be promptly reversed by an incoming Labour government.
    My impression is that Cameron and Hague will concentrate on showboating (immigration and defence), and a few concessions on social policy, at the expense of the business agenda, which I doubt they understand.

    • HookesLaw

      You have no evidence for any of that and as I point out elsewhere only back in October there was a report from No10 about cutting EU red tape and Cameron made a big deal of it at the last EU Summit.
      But you are right to point out that any changes could easily be reversed by a Labour Govt – especially if they refer to employment law – and would be quite legitimate if any such bchanges were not previously agreed by referendum. The antics of people seeking to split the conservative party are guaranteed to return a Labour govt.

      • Makroon

        I have “no evidence” (explicit anyway), which is precisely why I said “My impression” – 3/10 for comprehension Hooky.
        Hague is a very weird entity indeed – how he achieved high status in the Conservative party is a complete mystery. He is totally obsessed with Syrian intervention, and poncing around as a latter day Lord Palmerston.
        Hague has completely undermined Cameron’s early promise to “sharpen up the foreign office and focus it on supporting British business”. We are back to an unhealthy obsession with interfering in Arab politics.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Perhaps someone who does not think this is complete fantasy would like to explain how it could come about via EU mechanisms which we are signed up to already. No, never mind whether it makes sense, just how is it ever going to happen. One country cannot just turn up with a list of demands and have a negotiation, everybody gets a go at input to the next treaty. The unelected folks in charge are not going to let one country undermine what they consider to be an untouchable single market or set special rules for itself.

    • sfin

      Bravo! I am completely baffled at all the, supposed, learned heads nodding sagely at proposals like this. How many precedents do they need to realise that this is, as you say, fantasy.
      No one nation may renegotiate their terms of membership under the terms of the Lisbon treaty.
      This is, at best, a wish list to take to the next treaty negotiations (a treaty designed, like all the others, to lead us to ‘ever closer’ union), more politicking to show us how we wield our ‘influence’.

      • Denis_Cooper

        “No one nation may renegotiate their terms of membership under the terms of the Lisbon treaty.”

        That is true; but it isn’t something which is new with the Treaty of Lisbon, it was just as much the case under the terms of the 1957 Treaty of Rome to establish the EEC.

        • sfin

          Agreed. And I plead guilty to a touch of politicking myself when I mention the Lisbon treaty. It’s a short handed way of expressing my view that having ‘influence’ amongst 9 nation states is not the same as our ‘influence’ amongst 28.

    • James Allen

      It can’t and won’t happen. It’s a political ploy by Cameron because he genuinely believes the electorate is stupid enough (or can be persuaded by the BBC and Press) to believe a renegotiation is possible. He also knows he can’t win the next election so he won’t have to hold a referendum in any case. Personally I think the pressure is buliding and the longer the delay the better the chances of getting a majority for an EU exit. If it was held today, I’m not sure we’d win….?????

    • Count Dooku

      The proposals above are actually very interesting and make sense in a vacuum. How it will be implemented is anyone’s guess of course.
      If something like this could be implemented at a Europe-wide level though(unlikely), it would be a massive boost to the region and encourage competition rather than drab conformity.
      I think it’s something HMG should be pushing for in the next treaty if the UK votes to stay in.

      • James Allen

        Come on Count… HMG is almost entirely without friends in Europe. We’re either in or out, there’s no “third way”. Neither the EU member states (for reasons of competitive advantage) nor the Commission (to stop the unravelling of their European project) will allow Britain to change the rules. The whole point is we feel disadvantaged under the current arrangements. Why would those who benefit from this want to change it????!!!!! And as someone says above, the bigger picture is about freedom and democracy. We must get out now to restore Westminster as the sole democratically accountable source of legislation governing Britain.

        • Count Dooku

          We aren’t without allies, that’s just Europhile spin. There’s no way we will get anything outside a treaty negotiation but in one, I think we can rely on the Scandies, Germany, the Dutch, Check Republic, Poland and the Baltic states to push for a more decentralised Europe.
          The current system is clearly not working and voters know it. I do agree that an exit is in our long-term interest though but it would be very painful in the short term.

          • sfin

            I like your arguments, but I feel you’re forgetting one important factor. All treaty negotiations start with the fundamental principle of ‘ever closer union’ – it is set in stone and the question is never ‘should we proceed?’ it is always ‘how do we proceed?’ The aim never varies.

            • Count Dooku

              ECU is dead in the water. No one except the perma-federalists support it.
              The Dutch have already said it should be removed:
              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23005499

              • sfin

                ECU was always a soft, political construct which has met the unyielding wall of economics. What the ECU demonstrates, very well, is that, in countries like Greece and Italy, the EU is more than willing to suspend (and the next stage is eradicate) democracy to keep ‘the project’ rolling on.
                The Dutch have the same voting bloc as us – no chance! Who holds the purse strings? federalist Germany.

          • Smithersjones2013

            Germany will not push for a more decentralised Europe if at the same time they are going to become it’s bankers. The Euro dictates they cannot decentralise and they are not going to ditch the Euro for decentralisation,

            The EU are heading for intregrated financial union. Germany are going to be the bank that subsidises that financial union. They well demand greater centralisation to ensure the likes of the financial mess of the PIGS countries cannot happen in future.

            • Count Dooku

              This is a fair point, though you can have a banking union and centralised financial regulation without regulating the 85% of the economy that’s non-financial. The US states do this under a federal monetary policy for example.

              I’m not saying that your wrong, just that the proposals aren’t unworkable

          • James Allen

            I’m afraid you’re engaging in wishful thinking if you believe the Germans, Poles and Baltic states will push for a looser union. Equally I don’t see why an exit would be “very painful in the short-term”. THAT’S Europhile spin….

    • David

      The problem with this is that all this is a mere sticking plaster over a large open wound. The EU single market is only 15% of world GDP, but we are bound by EU trade rules when exporting to the other 85% (US, China, Commonwealth, BRICs, etc.) What we need are bilateral free trade deals with countries representing that 85%, but we cannot because the EU has to negotiate Europe-wide deals for all EU countries, many of which have vastly different economies to us.

      How we ever managed to get ourselves into this ludicrous situation is beyond me – it is proof that our politicians on all sides have almost no understanding of business and/or the interests of UK business. It also demonstrates that they regard(ed) their grand social engineering projects to be far more important than wealth creation – which is supposed to pay for all of this. We need to be out of the EU so we can negotiate directly with the big wide world, rather than being tied to the EU’s apron strings.

  • Alexsandr

    Matthew. you also need to look at ‘gold plating’ of eu regs by the UK.

    • dalai guevara

      The Climate Change Act 2008 and the Health Act 2006 (re:smoking ban in pubs) are two brilliant examples of how we have gone more Arian than the Arians. What has this got to do with Arians? Nothing! To paraphrase Hans Werner Sinn: the “bitter truth” is that Britain is often its own worst enemy.

  • johnfaganwilliams

    This sounds quite sensible to me. As a non-exporting businessman who can see advantages in a sane membership of a sane EU prima facie I like it…..

    • HookesLaw

      But if you are a non exporting businessman wanting to take advantage of workers from the EU? Would there not need to be corresponding employment laws between say the UK and Poland if there is to be fair free movement of labour?
      Now you may not want free movement of labour – that is not the issue. The plain fact is that many businessmen whose sole business is to sell me cups of coffee or drive my bus do.

      • SonofBoudica

        I think that the point is that free movement is undermining the labour market in the UK where immigrant labour from a country where the cost of living is a quarter of that in the UK will be willing to work for rock bottom wages as what they can send home is worth an awful lot more. No business in their right mind will voluntarily employ the most expensive labour. It is just that the labour market is distorted by large scale immigration.

        • HookesLaw

          Yes – the free movement of labour needs to be managed better between countries of different econmic levels and the conservatives I think are proposing changes.
          The issue of our own people stuck on Benefits Street is our own creation though.

        • Alexsandr

          and most of the business benefits end up abroad courtesy of western union.

          • James Allen

            The House of Lords’ own report said immigration had a “negligible” impact on economic growth. Big employers love it though, they put pressure on ministers and, lo and behold, it’s “essential” to our entire economy….

            Misinformation without limits = BBC propaganda.

      • Kingstonian

        Why exactly would there need to be corresponding employment laws? If Polish workers want to come to the UK to work, they would be subject to our employment laws – as would British workers going to Poland or indeed anywhere else.
        Why does harmonising employment laws mean “fair free movement of labour”? Do you mean that if British workers move to Australia or Indian workers come to the UK, this is somehow not fair?

        • Denis_Cooper

          When in Rome …

      • Alexsandr

        What about imports from china, Russia, morocco, s korea. They don’t conform to EU stuff, just make sure stuff they sell to the EU is properly CE marked. We would be the same.
        of course workers may want the EU employment legislation because it benefits them. But labour relations we can manage quite well ourselves without the EU interfering.

      • johnfaganwilliams

        No – and outside the argument. I’ve employed people from France, Germany, Israel. the United States and Australia to name a few. No idea what your point is.

    • James Allen

      It will never happen. And why you think 50% of our sovereignty back is better rather than 100% is beyond me. We will have a free trade agreement with EU whatever happens, in or out (there’s too much for them to lose by imposing trade barriers to our goods).

      • johnfaganwilliams

        Fair points – but I think you are assuming I’m supporting membership of the EU> I’m simply responding to this proposal

  • HookesLaw

    Back in October the Prime Minister’s Office published ’30 Measures to Cut EU Red Tape’ by the Business Taskforce.

    A British butcher may not deal directly with the EU but he would still have to deal with British red tape if not the EU version. Is this so different?
    And other regulations like working time directives may or may not be a good idea in themselves but how is the bureaucracy to work which distinguishes between companies which trade with the EU and those that do not? One worker may have rights to time off and limits to a working week etc whilst his neighbour is forced to go without. How would that work then?
    The simple reality is of course that even if abolished tomorrow a future Labour Govt would re-apply such rules, and any others that suited its left wing outlook, irrespective of EU membership.

    • dalai guevara

      The ban of T Bone Steak and Oxtail was lifted in 1999 due to abolishing controversial nation feeding practices of cattle with the remains of what once washed up on the shores of the river Ganges.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Do we have to repeat Hague’s words in every thread on the EU from now on:

      He told the Murnaghan show on Sky News: “If national parliaments all
      around the European Union were regularly and unilaterally just able to
      chose which bits of EU law they would apply and which bits they wouldn’t
      well then the European single market wouldn’t work.

      Its irrelevant unless you can prove Cameron has at least a Qualified Majority in the EU then its more Tory lies about the EU. Hague has let the cat out of the bag. He and Cameron have being trying to con the British people with a lie.

      There’s no more playing these infantile games anymore. Cameron needs to put up or shut up. No more ‘pigs might fly’ mealy mouthed spin and dithering about what he’d like to happen. He needs to say now exactly what powers are coming back and when!

      So come on put up or shut up!

    • fubarroso

      A British butcher may not deal directly with the EU but he would still have to deal with British red tape if not the EU version. Is this so different?

      I don’t see why there should be any British red tape. Why should the UK government be involved in trading standards? Many EU standards are based on ISO or other international organisations and most firms manage to conform to these standards with no UK government involvement.

  • asalord

    “The British Option” ?

    I think it will be the rUK option.

    • HookesLaw

      An independent Scotland would have to sign up to Schengen open borders rules if it wanted to join the EU.

      • Bert3000

        Lucky for Scotland. The rest of us will, no doubt, go on having to be tracked by the state just to travel between our own country and France, and enormous cost to the taxpayer and for no good reason whatsoever. Perhaps the great anti-red tape warriors would like to stop that ridiculous waste?

        • HookesLaw

          Just to be clear about this – you have no problem with anyone at all who enters the EU anywhere from anyplace having the right to freely come here? And purveyors of Scottish independence are not bothered about them coming into Scotland?

          • Bert3000

            Of course I have no problem. Free movement in Europe is a wonderful thing and British people should be allowed to take advantage of it. There’s no problem with a common external border and the Schengen countries have been proving that for years. We should join and save a lot of utterly pointless bureaucracy and waste.

            • fubarroso

              That is not the Britain that I, nor many on this forum, wish to live in.

              I travelled all over Europe, and worked in several European countries, before the Single European Act came into force with no difficulty whatsoever. Changing currency is really not that much of a hassle and certainly not worth giving up sovereignty for. Neither is showing ones passport at a border.

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