New recipe for disaster: a pro-business Scrutiny Board to prevent laws that hurt corporate profit

The European Commission’s shocking leaked proposal for ”better regulation” would create a pro-business bureaucratic mechanism to prevent new laws – from regulating chemicals to preventing climate change – that could hurt the bottom line of corporations. Add TTIP and its ‘regulatory co-operation’ and US companies get in on the act too, with extra privileges.

Since 2002, the Commission has been looking for ways to make EU legislation more business friendly across the board, be it in the name of “competitiveness” or the fight against so-called “red tape”. Now, a shocking leaked document shows Vice President Timmermans is taking that endeavour to a whole new level. A new bureaucratic body is to have the power to stop the Commission from tabling proposals that don’t adhere to a set of business-friendly principles. Furthermore, the Commission wants to be able to pull an “emergency brake” if its proposals are significantly changed in the “wrong” direction by either the Council or the European Parliament – could be laws improving working conditions, could be environmental regulation. The leaked document is entitled “Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda”, ostensibly to be released later in May.

Surprised? Shocked? Then try adding the so-called “Regulatory Cooperation” planned under the trade agreement negotiated between the EU and the US (TTIP) and figure out the consequences. The two together would significantly strengthen the hand of US corporations seeking ways to drive down EU standards.

From the language used, the intentions of the Commission sound quite sympathetic: “Better regulation,” they say, is about “simplifying the legal framework and reducing regulatory burdens across the single market”, about “the delivery of decisive and effective action on the challenges that Europe is facing today”, and about setting out to “avoid any undue burden. Sensible, realistic rules that do their job to meet our common objectives: no more, no less.” What could possibly the problem?

The problem lies in the true intentions of this “Better regulation” agenda. As revealed in a report from Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth Europe, the Commission is in fact creating a mechanism to prevent rules that, while they make sense when judged from an environmental or social point of view, may annoy some business sectors. Cutting through the spin, this is basically an agenda to help business groupings get rid of rules they don’t like, and prevent new rules from emerging that in order to for example, improve health, social conditions or promote a sustainable course, could cost businesses the bottom line. “Cutting red tape” or “reduce the administrative burden” are the most common slogans. In reality the result is the buildup of a set of bureaucratic procedures to steer EU rulemaking in a pro-business direction. Rather ironic, then, that in the name of cutting red tape the European Commission is proposing a new layer of bureaucracy. It seems bureaucracy is not their real target: EU regulations that might annoy businesses are.

Lees verder op Corporate Europe Observatory