UK Politics

David Cameron urges European Union to limit red tape

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Media captionShop owner Roger George says red tape and regulations are a burden on his business

David Cameron has promised to make business more competitive by pushing for a limit to the number of new European Union regulations.

The prime minister, in Brussels for a leaders' summit, said firms had been "throttled" by red tape.

Instead, he will argue for a "one-in, one-out" rule, where for every regulation and directive created another should be removed.

But the EU said it had already cut 5,590 since 2005.

Mr Cameron is committed to renegotiating the UK's relationship with the EU if the Conservative Party wins the next election, ahead of an "in-out" referendum on whether the country should remain a member.

'Strong commitment'

In the meantime, he is promising to work to reduce the bureaucracy facing companies.

Conservative sources say he wants to see 1,500 regulations reviewed.

Eighty business leaders, including the chairmen of BT and Asda, have signed a letter calling for a "strong commitment" by the government towards this.

At the Brussels summit, which lasts until Friday, Mr Cameron is holding one-to-one meetings with the leaders of Germany and the Netherlands, who share similar views on deregulation.

He is taking Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland and investor Dale Murray to help garner support.

But the European Commission said the idea of getting rid of a regulation every time a new one is introduced was "simplistic".

Its president, Jose Manuel Barroso, challenged Mr Cameron and other EU leaders to cut red tape in their own countries and to stop "gold plating" existing EU rules - making them tougher than originally intended.

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