By Andrea Leadsom MP
I greatly welcome the publication by Open Europe of their paper on repatriating EU Social Policy. You can view the report here. It is of fundamental importance to the jobs and growth agenda in the UK, and is unique in that it quantifies the cost to the UK economy of complying with EU Social Policy at £8.6bn per year. While there are clear benefits to some social and employment law, Open Europe calculate that cutting EU regulation in this area by 50% would create 140,000 jobs in the UK. This is hugely significant at a time when economic growth remains slow.
What is also clear is that even though there is disagreement among politicians about the desirable extent of Social and Employment legislation, there is a growing consensus that decisions are better taken at a national, rather than European, level. The left may increasingly come to the view that EU legislation is not only failing to provide improved worker protection, it is in some ways undermining it, as the austerity agenda caused by the Eurozone crisis will force governments to liberalise their labour markets. The right and business leaders continue to complain about the cost of complying with EU laws.
National governments are better able to create Social Policy that suits the specific needs of their economies and citizens. And making this policy in Westminster brings politics closer to the citizens that it affects.
For these reasons, I am excited about the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on European Reform, and its inaugural meeting which is to be held on 10 November. We will be discussing the issue of Employment and Social Policy and will draw on the opinions of members from all political parties, along with peers, MEPs, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and other leading think tanks. I have put myself forward as Co-Chair, with Thomas Docherty MP, from the Labour intake of 2010. Other MPs who have put themselves forward as officers include Frank Field MP, Gisela Stuart MP, Mark Garnier MP, David Ruffley MP, Margot James MP, Harriett Baldwin MP, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, George Eustice MP, Karen Lumley MP, Anne-Marie Morris MP, Priti Patel MP, and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.
Following the launch of the APPG, I plan to work with Conservative Colleagues through the Fresh Start Project to develop specific policy proposals on the repatriation of powers.