european union

In a move that echoes one made on this side of the Atlantic, the European Commission plans to review – and possibly eliminate -- regulations that it says are hindering business growth and job creation. In a reaction that echoes some heard on this side of the Atlantic, labor and workers’ rights advocates are not happy about the plan.

The “top ten most burdensome EU laws” identified by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso include the REACH Regulation, which is intended to better protect the health of European citizens against toxic chemicals and the Working Time Directive, which gives workers a guaranteed right to rest.

Barroso contends that overly-complicated or outdated EU directives and regulations are having a negative effect on the 20.8 million European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which create 85% of all new jobs in Europe and employ two-thirds of the workforce.

The Commission recently announced plans to "ease" the targeted laws through the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012 by screening regulations for burdens, gaps and inefficiencies. The Commission says it will announce follow-up plans by June of this year.

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) said the move will threaten labor and employment rights.

The following EU laws have been identified by SMEs as the TOP 10 most burdensome EU laws:

  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)
  • VAT - Value added tax legislation
  • General Product Safety and market surveillance package
  • Recognition of professional qualifications
  • Shipments of waste - Waste framework legislation - List of waste and hazardous waste
  • Labour market-related legislation
  • Data protection
  • Working time
  • Recording equipment in road transport (for driving and rest periods)
  • Procedures for the award of public contracts (public works, supply and service contracts)
  • Modernised customs code