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Written Answers. - EU Regulations Cost.

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 No. 3

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 100. Mr. B. O'Keeffe Information on Batt O'Keeffe Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  the concerns, if any, he has at the cost of new regulations emanating from the EU on Irish businesses. [4166/96]

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am very conscious of the cost of new regulations on Irish businesses and I am aware that an increasing proportion of these regulations are emanating from the European Union.

The cost of compliance with new and, indeed, existing regulations is widely recognised. In 1994 the Task Force on Small Business considered the regulatory burden on business and recognised the burden arising from compliance costs particularly for small business. The European Commission, in a report presented to the Madrid European Council in December 1995, recognised that European enterprises face an increasingly complex, legal, fiscal and administrative environment. The 1995 annual report of the European Observatory for SMEs has estimated the total annual cost of administrative burdens on all enterprises in Europe to be in the order of 150 - 250 billion ECU (IR£122 — 204 billion). I share with the European Commission and other member states a strong concern at the extent of these costs and a desire to see these burdens reduced.

Improvement of the administrative and legal environment of enterprises is a priority measure under the EU Multiannual Programme on Enterprise Policy [797] 1993-1996. As part of this programme, a business impact assessment system now forms part of the Commission system for preparation of EU regulations. I welcome the establishment of this system as a means of identifying, at an early stage, costs associated with Commission proposals. I will continue to support proposals for continued development and improvement of this system.

The importance, at EU level, of detailed evaluation, transparency and effective and timely consultation cannot be over emphasised as a means of keeping compliance costs to a minimum. I believe that all EU proposals for regulations must establish whether the benefits of the proposed measure are in proportion to the costs to be imposed on business and others, particularly small business. Our priority must be the maintenance and creation of employment and where increased regulation can be seen to interfere with that priority, then I feel such regulations should be kept to an absolute minimum or even dropped from our agenda altogether.

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