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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
EU moves to cut knot of red tape
Guenter Verheugen
Guenter Verheugen: This is just the start of the over-regulation battle
The EU is launching a new attempt to cut down on excessive regulation.

The European Commission - which drafts and oversees implementation of EU laws - plans to scrap a third of the laws now stuck in the legislative pipeline.

It hopes that lightening the regulatory burden on business will boost competitiveness and cut unemployment.

One law destined for review is a directive designed to give temporary workers the same pay and conditions as permanent staff.

Temporary workers directive: giving temporary workers the same rights as permanent staff
Coffee packaging directive: standardising the size of package that coffee can be sold in
HGV driving on Sunday: introducing a fixed number of hours across the EU
"We have looked at everything on the table and cleared away what we don't need," Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.

The initiative is being strongly backed by the UK government, which currently holds the EU presidency.

But the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, said the parliament would consult lawyers to check whether the Commission had the power to withdraw all 68 pieces of legislation on its hit list.

He said it was unclear that they had the legal right to scrap proposals that member states had already discussed, and taken a common position on.

'Cultural revolution'

Many of the proposals being scrapped have already become redundant, because they concern relations with the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004.

But Monica Frassoni, a Green leader in the parliament, said some were substantial laws on the environment and transport.

Scrapping draft legislation
Simplifying existing laws
Preventing member states 'goldplating' EU laws with extra national rules
One piece of doomed legislation the European parliament would like to keep is a plan to harmonise the number of hours a heavy goods vehicle can be driven on a Sunday, to limit noise.

Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said this was just the beginning of a drive for better regulation.

"EU regulation makes sense where it adds value. But where it doesn't we will scrap it," he said in a statement.

An attempt will begin next month to simplify 80,000 pages of EU law now in existence.

There is also a plan to prevent member states adding their own rules and regulations when they transpose EU directives into national law.

The BBC's Tim Franks in Brussels says that in Brussels' terms, this is a call for a cultural revolution.

The initiative is partly designed to end the image of the EU as a bureaucratic monster, which meddles in every aspect of citizens' lives.

The move to review the directive on temporary workers has been welcomed by business leaders in the UK, where two-thirds of all temps in the EU are employed.

However, EU officials have said the directive could come back in another form.

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