Douglas Carswell

28 APR 2016

Brussels is strangling small business

EU red tape costs small business billions. The PM's renegotiation was meant to lift the burden of EU regulation on SMEs. It failed. The only way to set small businesses free is to vote Leave.

Small business is the core of Britain's economy. It accounts for 47% of private sector turnover, and 60% of private sector employment. It's also often the source of the disruptive innovation that produces economic progress. Better conditions for SMEs means more jobs and more prosperity.

But Brussels is holding small business back. EU legislation covers every area of commerce. Packaging goods? Check you've complied with EU standards. Designing an appliance? Make sure you've followed the eco-design directive. Selling food? Don't forget to put the right EU-approved label on it.

The burden falls heaviest on SMEs. Big corporations can afford entire compliance departments to apply the rules – and expensive lobbyists to write them in the first place. SMEs don't have the same resources. The EU lets the big players keep out competition by rigging the market.

EU red tape costs our economy hundreds of billions of pounds – according to the Government's own figures. Based on official impact assessments, the annual cost of EU regulation is over £33 billion.

That's only part of it. Factor in quotas and trade barriers too, and the bill is much higher. In 2005, the Treasury estimated that these cost European consumers up to 7% of GDP – which for Britain comes to £125 billion a year. That's £4,639 per household, or £23,236 per company.

EU trade makes up 10% of our economy. But 79% of British businesses exclusively cater to the domestic market. Why should EU red tape apply to 100% of our economy?

To free small business, create jobs, and grow our economy, we need to repeal restrictive regulation. We can only do that outside the EU.

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