Isabel Hardman

EU red tape push will give Cameron cover for renegotiation

EU red tape push will give Cameron cover for renegotiation
Text settings

The government's business taskforce will give a presentation today to Cabinet on its report on slashing EU regulation. David Cameron has already indicated that he will support the 30 recommendations in the report, compiled by M&S chief executive Marc Bolland, Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire, ATG Access managing director Glenn Cooper, BTG chief executive Louise Makin, entrepreneur Dale Murray and Diageo boss Paul Walsh. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said that he will look to resolve complaints about legislation burdening companies, and Cameron sees this as an important way of showing that Britain can lead on making the case for reform in the European Union as a whole. European campaign groups, from Europhile British Influence to Eurosceptic Business for Britain, have welcomed the proposals in this report, which include scrapping the requirement for small businesses to keep written health and safety assessments, streamlining chemicals legislation and dropping plans for sole traders to have to pay for collecting and transporting even small amounts of waste.

If David Cameron gets his way, it will be a way of showing that Britain has an influence in the EU and that it can get its way on reform. It will also at least give the impression that Cameron has power to negotiate a new relationship for Britain with Europe. But the question that remains, above and beyond British influence over a desire for reform across the European Union, is just what it is that Cameron wants to negotiate. He is wary of revealing his demands to his party, because they will never be robust enough for some of his backbenchers. His backbenchers are wary of his motives on reform, as they suspect (rightly) that his vision of a reformed relationship is nowhere near minimalist enough.