Government seeks to dilute EU protection rules

By staff writers
20 Dec 2010

The UK government is seeking to dilute its commitment to European Union protection for workers, the environment, safety and other public concerns.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable announced last week that a new approach to implementing European Union directives into domestic law will be taken in order to ensure that British businesses are more readily able to avoid regulation.

He said that from now on only the minimum core principle from the texts of directives will be copied directly into UK law. The ‘copy out’ principle will effectively weaken British interpretations of European law, say critics.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary, Brendan Barber, commented: "This is a depressing, dangerous and counter-productive policy. For the government to say that it will always settle for the bare minimum of any European policy - whether it's designed to protect consumers, the environment or people at work - is a profoundly depressing position."

Barber continued: "This entirely bypasses the UK's democratic processes and for Euro-sceptics must be the ultimate surrender to Brussels, as it leaves important areas of UK law to [their] rule-makers and to the UK courts."

"It could well mean more uncertainty for business, as Parliament will no longer set rules that are written specifically for UK circumstances," he added.

The UK government has already indicated that it wishes to take a "voluntary" approach to implementation of the EU Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) on pesticides, to the annoyance of environmental campaigners.

It has also said it will specifically be talking with business organisations about the European Commission’s plans for future legislation - in order, claim critics, to give them an effective backdoor veto over social and environmental commitments they may wish to evade.

[Ekk/3]

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