Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

MEPs clash over small business laws

British UKIP MEP the Earl of Dartmouth has clashed with Belgian Liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx, during a debate on accountancy and auditing laws on 8 March 2010.

MEPs were debating a new law that would exempt many very small companies (micro-businesses) from a number of administrative requirements on filing annual accounts.

Mr Sterckx had warned against some elements of this, saying it could harm the functioning of the single market.

However The Earl of Dartmouth criticised EU red tape and said to Mr Sterckx "Britain entered the First World War to protect [...] Belgium, and Mr Sterckx should partly repaying that obligation".

Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne welcomed the change in the law, but said that the EU needed to go further to reduce administrative burden on small businesses.

Winding up the debate, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier, said that the law would help around five million small businesses across the EU.

At the voting session on 10 March 2010 MEPs passed the proposal by 445 votes to 196.

We apologise for the incorrect date shown on the graphic, this is due to technical problems outside of our control.

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